TORONTO — After his terrific two-hit complete-game shutout, Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt seemed more concerned with how the city hockey team two blocks up the street was doing.
Bassitt had just blanked the NL-leading Atlanta Braves 3-0 on Friday, but his sporty, competitive nature was with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Let’s do this fast. There’s another game, you know,” Bassitt (5-2) said, beginning his postgame 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 scoreless inning streak to a career-high 20. “We had a game plan and I pretty much executed it.”
Bassitt struck out eight, including the final two Braves (25-13) and allowed just two walks and hit two batters in his 103-pitch effort.
“That’s an incredible lineup there, and for him to do what he did, it felt like he was in total control of everything he threw,” George Springer said. “He seemed to throw sweepers and all sorts of Chris Bassitt stuff that they didn’t expect.”
Bassitt pitched a complete-game shutout for the second time in his career. Bassitt also pitched the first nine-inning complete game shutout for the Blue Jays (22-16) since Mark Buehrle shutout the Washington Nationals on June 3, 2015. Additionally, 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 came out and I said, ‘How are you?’” Schneider said. “He said, ‘perfect.’ I said ‘okay, what’s your plan’ and he said, ‘sink you’. I said, ‘Go get it.’
“He’s the kind of guy you trust right away because of the preparation he does.”
Bassitt retired the first 13 Braves in order, but then allowed a one-out double down the right-field line to Eddie Rosario in the fifth inning.
“I’m not saying flawless by any means just because our defense was amazing,” Bassitt said. “I don’t know how many blows they took from him.”
Rosario was caught stealing third base by Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk, but Bassitt loaded the bases with two hit batters and a walk. Springer rushed to make a catch in foul territory off Orlando Arcia’s bat to end the inning.
Springer’s catch and Kirk’s ejection of Rosario continued a night of solid defense for Toronto. Kevin Kiermaier made a nifty sliding catch on former Blue Jays farmer Travis d’Arnaud to lead off the third inning. The next batter, Michael Harris II, had a liner gobbled up by Bo Bichette who dove behind second base.
With the Braves on first and second with no outs in the sixth, Matt Chapman picked up a Matt Olson chopper, bunted third, and tagged Olson out for a double play.
This was an old-fashioned pitching duel between Bassitt and Atlanta’s Spencer Strider (4-1) before 35,047 at Rogers Center.
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning. Whit Merrifield hit a two-out single to center field and scored on Springer’s single to left field. The Blue Jays added a run in the seventh on a bases-loaded pass and another in the eighth on a one-out home run to right-center by Daulton Varsho off reliever Kirby Yates.
Pitcher Strider went hitless in the third inning with a two-out single to center field off Kiermaier.
Strider (4-1) went 6.2 innings, striking out 11, walking one and allowing 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 right-hander increased his strikeout total to eight for the game. It was the 12th straight start that Strider had struck out eight or more opponents.
José Berríos (3-3) will start for the Blue Jays in the halfgame of their three-game series against the Braves. Atlanta’s Bryce Elder (3-0) will take the mound for the visitors.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 12, 2023.
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