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Jays’ Kikuchi gives up first runs of spring

Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi was tagged with his first earned runs of spring training as the Blue Jays were swept by Philadelphia in a pair of split-squad games Friday.

Kikuchi, who is having an impressive spring for Toronto, took the loss in an 8-1 defeat to the Phillies at Dunedin, Fla.

Another Jays split squad lost 4-2 at the Phillies’ spring facility at Clearwater, Fla.

Kikuchi gave up two runs on one hit while striking out three and walking three over 3 1/3 innings.

Despite getting tagged with his first loss of the season, Kikuchi is sporting a 1-1 record with a 1.38 earned-run average over 13 innings pitched as he battles for a spot in the Jays’ starting rotation.

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Kikuchi ran into trouble early, walking the first two batters he faced before giving up an RBI double to Jake Cave. Philadelphia went up 2-1 two batters later with a Josh Harrison sacrifice fly.

The lefty cruised after his early trouble, retiring eight of the next nine batters he faced, save for a second-inning walk to Max McDowell.

Adrian Hernandez replaced Kikuchi in the fourth and immediately gave up a homer to Kody Clemens. Philadelphia added three more runs in the inning on a Brandon Marsh single and a Cave two-run single.

Clemens added an RBI single in the fifth, and the Phillies got another in the inning when Josh Harrison scored on McDowell’s ground-out into a double play.

Toronto got its only run in the sixth on a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sacrifice fly.

Phillies lefty Matt Strahm struck out four over two innings to pick up the win.

At Clearwater, Blue Jays centre-fielder Cam Eden went 2-for-2 with a solo homer in the third inning in a losing cause.

Rhys Hoskins and Gabriel Rincones Jr. had homers for Philadelphia.

Blue Jays starter Chris Bassitt gave up four hits and one earned run over five innings. Erik Swanson picked up the loss in relief when he surrendered Rincones’ two-run homer in the sixth.

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Phillies starter Bailey Falter gave up one earned run on three hits over five innings. Connor Brogdon pitched the sixth to pick up the win.

Toronto (12-10) welcomes the New York Yankees to Dunedin on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2023.

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