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Guardians hoping Aaron Civale can shut down Blue Jays’ bats

Sportsnaut
May 4, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) hits a double against the New York Yankees in the third inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Guardians will host the power-hitting Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game series starting Thursday evening.

Toronto’s bash brothers will put pressure on the Guardians’ pitching staff in the series. The Blue Jays have 32 home runs this season, only three behind the major-league-leading New York Yankees’ 35.

For Toronto, both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer have six homers, while Matt Chapman has five.

Toronto had a major-league-high 262 homers last season.

It might not be a great time for Cleveland right-hander Aaron Civale (0-2, 10.67 ERA) to face the Blue Jays. He will oppose right-hander Jose Berrios (2-0, 4.13) in the first game of the series. Civale has struggled in the early part of the season.

Civale is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in one career start against Toronto.

Berrios is 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 15 starts vs. the Guardians. He’s 3-0 at Progressive Field.

Cleveland is coming off a split in a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. The Guardians lost the first game 5-4 and won the nightcap 6-5 in 10 innings.

They accomplished the split with top hitter Jose Ramirez going hitless in six at-bats in the doubleheader. However, first baseman Josh Naylor was 3-for-5 in the two games and now is batting .340 on the season.

“He’s using the whole field,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “When he stays on the ball, he’s really dangerous.”

Naylor said he loved the way Cleveland battled in the two games.

“We are just fighters,” he said. “We never give up. That’s the character of our team.”

He commended rookie Steven Kwan, whose base hit in the 10th inning knocked in Owen Miller with the winning run in Game 2 against the Padres.

“He’s an incredible hitter,” Naylor said. “He’s just going to get better. I’m excited about his future.”

Cleveland designated hitter Franmil Reyes, in one of the worst slumps of his career, was 2-for-32 with 16 strikeouts in his last 22 plate appearances on the recently concluded road trip. The Guardians were ecstatic he was 2-for-4 with a run scored in the second game of the twinbill.

“I’m happy for him,” Francona said. “For him to be on base, and in the middle of what we were doing, I know that makes him feel good. We need him.”

The Blue Jays are coming off a 2-1 win over the Yankees on Wednesday, which snapped New York’s 11-game winning streak. They trail the first-place Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the AL East.

Toronto outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, out since April 14 with an oblique pull, is expected back for the Cleveland series. He went 1-for-3 and struck out twice in his second rehab game at Class-A Dunedin.

–Field Level Media