TORONTO – After his excellent two-hit, complete-game shutout, Toronto Blue Jays righty Chris Bassitt appeared more concerned about how the city’s hockey team was faring two blocks down the street.
Bassitt had just blanked the National League-leading Atlanta Braves 3-0 on Friday, but his sporting, competitive nature was with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Let’s make this quick. There’s another game, you know,” Bassitt (5-2) said, beginning his post-game remarks. The Maple Leafs had just tied Game 5 against the Florida Panthers to send the game into overtime.
Meanwhile, the humble Bassitt already seemed to put his masterful performance in the rear-view mirror.
“I just executed a lot better than most nights,” said Bassitt, who extended his shutout innings streak to a career-high 20. “We had a game plan going in, and I pretty much executed it.”
Bassitt struck out eight, including the final two Braves (25-13) and allowed only two walks and hit two batters in his 103-pitch effort.
“That’s an incredible lineup over there, and for him to do what he did, it just felt like he was in complete control of everything he threw,” George Springer said. “He seemed to throw sweepers and all sorts of Chris Bassitt stuff they weren’t expecting.”
Bassitt tossed a complete-game shutout for the second time in his career. Bassitt also threw the first nine-inning complete game shutout for the Blue Jays (22-16) since Mark Buehrle blanked the Washington Nationals on June 3, 2015. In addition, this was the first complete game for a Toronto starter since Marcus Stroman defeated the Los Angeles Angels on April 23, 2017.
Blue Jays manager John Schneider made a trip to the mound with two out in the eighth inning.
“I went out there and said, ‘How are you doing?’” Schneider said. “He said, ‘perfect.’ I said ‘all right, what’s your plan’ and he said, ‘sinker away.’ I said, ‘Go get him.’
“He’s the type of dude that you immediately trust because of the prep that he does.”
Bassitt retired the first 13 Braves in order but then gave up a one-out double down the right-field line to Eddie Rosario in the fifth inning.
“I’m not saying flawlessly by any means just because our defence was unbelievable,” Bassitt said. “I don’t know how many hits they took away.”
Rosario was caught stealing third by Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk, but Bassitt loaded the bases with two hit batters and a walk. Springer hustled to make a running catch in foul territory off the bat of Orlando Arcia to end the inning.
The Springer catch and Kirk throwing out Rosario continued an evening of solid defence for Toronto. Kevin Kiermaier made a nifty sliding catch on former Blue Jays farmhand Travis d’Arnaud to lead off the third inning. The next batter, Michael Harris II, had a line drive gobbled up by a diving Bo Bichette behind second base.
With Braves on first and second with none out in the sixth, Matt Chapman collected a Matt Olson chopper, touched third and tossed out Olson for a double play.
This was an old fashion pitching duel between Bassitt and Atlanta’s Spencer Strider (4-1) before 35,047 at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays snatched a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. Whit Merrifield delivered a two-out single to centre field and scored on Springer’s single to left. The Blue Jays added a run in the seventh inning on a passed ball with the bases loaded and another in the eighth on a one-out homer to straightaway centre from Daulton Varsho off reliever Kirby Yates.
The hard-throwing Strider had his no-hit bid end in the third inning with a two-out single to centre from Kiermaier.
Strider (4-1) went 6.2 innings, striking out 11, walking one and giving up two runs on five hits before giving way to reliever Danny Young, who walked the first two batters he faced.
When Strider struck out Toronto third baseman Chapman to end the fourth inning, the Atlanta righty increased his strikeout total to eight for the game. It was the 12th consecutive start Strider struck out eight or more opponents.
Jose Berrios (3-3) will start for the Blue Jays in the middle game of the three-game series against the Braves. Atlanta’s Bryce Elder (3-0) will take to the mound for the visitors.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023.
© 2023 The Canadian Press