Time: 8:10 p.m. ET
Venue: American Family Field, Milwaukee, WI
Where to watch: SNET-1, Bally Sports Wisconsin
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
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Season record (entering Thursday)
Blue Jays: 39-30
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Blue Jays - Brewers preview and analysis
Not the ideal time right now for the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only have they been on one hell of a slide right now, but they followed that tough series over the weekend against the New York Yankees with two difficult losses against the Chicago White Sox. But hey, at least they figured out how to win the finale in Chicago on Wednesday. Now, they get a day off to recover and hopefully don’t take a step back against the Milwaukee Brewers starting on Friday.
The Blue Jays have been the victims of trying to rally for offense during this losing stretch. They were the aggressors this time around with tallying seven runs against Lucas Giolito through five innings, including a grand slam from Bo Bichette in the top of the fourth, to give Ross Stripling enough of a cushion to get the 9-5 victory.
Stripling went six innings and allowed just one run in that stretch, while Alejandro Kirk and Teoscar Hernandez also homered to balloon the lead to 9-1. Chicago attempted to come back with three runs in the eighth but couldn’t get any closer than that. Not bad on a day where five players have two hits.
"Bo and everyone else, it was great to see the mindset this morning," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "I wish you guys could have seen it. Like everyone said, ‘let's go. Let's turn the page.' It's not easy for young guys, but they did a good job of that."
Kirk, the leading vote-getter for catchers in the American League right now, pushed his batting average back to .307 with eight home runs and 26 RBI this year. In a lineup full of guys who can score runs and hit for power, we can’t be overlooking the 23-year-old catcher who continues to be a hitting machine while putting the ball in play each time.
You’d like to have some form of that consistency at some point, and I’d argue one way to do that is actually put the ball in play, not hit for power and RBI every time. That’s one argument I can make as to why the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hasn’t made as much of an impact as I think the masses would like him to make.
But when I look at Toronto’s lineup, if the Brewers had the Blue Jays’ bats, they might be the best team in the entire league. That’s the only thing slowing Milwaukee down right now, on top of the injuries to the pitching rotation. The Brewers got off to a great start in their series against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning 2-0 in the opener behind a stellar performance from Corbin Burnes.
Then the last two games happened, and things hit a reset. Chi Chi Gonzalez and Eric Lauer couldn’t respond after that, and the Brewers now find themselves back out of first place in the NL Central. The Brewers actually gave Lauer a 4-3 lead going into the sixth, but Nolan Arenado’s go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth was the last straw. Milwaukee lost 5-4 on Wednesday for their second straight loss, and the series will wrap up on Thursday.
"It just seems to me, for me right now like one to three pitches a game that are really sticking it to me," Lauer said. "I feel like I'm pitching much better than what my outings are showing. It's one of those things that baseball will do to you. It will kick you in the teeth, it'll beat you down and make sure you keep working."
It’s not often the Brewers will be on the receiving end of the downside of the pitching matchup, but Game 1 here will put Milwaukee in a disadvantage. The Blue Jays will send their ace and Cy Young candidate Alek Manoah to the mound, boasting an 8-2 clip with a 2.00 ERA. The Brewers will counter with right-hander Adrian Houser, sitting at 4-7 with a 4.24 ERA.
You won’t find me going against Manoah when he’s been throwing like this. He’s the best option the Blue Jays have going right now. If the Brewers can crack that code, I have no idea how baseball works anymore and I might just give up. Blue Jays win 7-2
Blue Jays are 24-27 playing with a day off the past three seasons.
Blue Jays are 18-16 on the road this season.
Blue Jays are 25-8 the past three seasons when Alek Manoah starts.
Brewers are 1-7 this season at home when line is between +125 and -125.
Santiago Espinal (R) 2B
Bo Bichette (R) SS
Vladimir Guerrero (R) 1B
Alejandro Kirk (R) DH
Teoscar Hernandez (R) RF
Matt Chapman (R) 3B
Raimel Tapia (L) CF
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R) LF
Gabriel Moreno (R) C
SP - Alek Manoah
Christian Yelich (L) LF
Luis Urias (R) SS
Rowdy Tellez (L) 1B
Andrew McCutchen (R) DH
Hunter Renfroe (R) RF
Omar Narvaez (L) C
Keston Hiura (R) 2B
Jace Peterson (L) 3B
Tyrone Taylor (R) CF
SP - Adrian Houser
Batting average: Alejandro Kirk -- .307
Home runs: Vladimir Guerrero Jr -- 17
RBI: Vladimir Guerrero Jr -- 42
Wins: Alek Manoah -- 8
ERA: Alek Manoah -- 2.00
Batting average: Rowdy Tellez -- .253
Home runs: Willy Adames -- 14
RBI: Rowdy Tellez -- 40
Wins: Eric Lauer -- 6
ERA: Corbin Burnes -- 2.31
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