Whit Merrifield leads in four runs, while the Blue Jays Pirates are swept

Pittsburgh – The 2023 Blue Jays are living their lives to the max.

Three days after losing to the Red Sox, Toronto ended a dominant run against the Pirates with a 10-1 victory on Sunday. The consistency isn’t quite there yet, but the highs are almost sexy enough to make you forget about it.

“It’s a credit to the guys,” manager John Schneider said. “There’s no panic. It’s what it is in Boston, and then you go ahead and try to win the next series. It’s always hard to take all three, but we’re finally back to what we used to do.”

After 1 hour and 35 minutes of rain, the visitors blew the doors off Pittsburgh in the finale, starting with a three-run home run by White Merrifield in the third. Daulton Varsho became the first Blue Jay and 46er in PNC Park history to hit a ball into the Allegheny River, then Kevin Kiermaier took a turn for a home run. Toronto fans who made the five-hour drive to get one of the best views in baseball received the royal treatment.

This team has layers, and after a busy week with a much-needed day off on Monday, this is how they hastily turned things around:

Up and down going in the beginning

This part is not complicated. The Blue Jays rotation was totally ugly in Boston.

Then Pittsburgh happened. Chris Bassett was excellent, Jose Berrios was solid and Yosei Kikuchi remained one of the best stories of the season for the Blue Jays. Kikuchi pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, giving the Blue Jays starters a 0.92 ERA over 19 2/3 innings this weekend. Not bad from a No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 beginner in the spin.

“I was disappointed last year, but I’m using that disappointment as fuel this year,” Kikuchi said through a translator at the club. “I learned from everything last year and brought it into this year.”

The Blue Jays knew the Pirates’ baserunning would be problematic, and there was a growing sense of awareness given what happened against the Red Sox. Boston stole nine bases in four contests, including a five-game, and many weren’t even close.

“In Boston, I think that’s the worst thing we’ve done in the entire series,” said Bassett, who started on Friday. “How many stolen bases do we have in Boston. A lot of them weren’t on the catcher, they were on the pitcher. To control the running game, you have to be very proud of it.”

Pittsburgh was aggressive in Game 1 of the series, but only went 1-for-2 that night, hitting several runs on the bases against a Blue Jays team that was looking for it. The Pirates still lead MLB in steals with 46 — well above the Blue Jays’ 26 — but Toronto leveled things up this series, including Merrifield’s three steals in the opener.

Sunday’s three-run home run was Merrifield’s first of the season, but he’d do everything else over the first 35 games, posting a . 291 average, . 750 runs, seven steals and a solid glove at second base and left field. Prior to the homer, Merrifield had already driven in the first run of the game with an RBI single in the first.

Brandon Belt had an excellent weekend in Pittsburgh, too. He may not even want to leave.

161 average and .509 OPS, but went a combined 6-for-9 with three doubles and three walks in the collection. He suddenly pulls the ball, which we haven’t seen too often in April, and it’s remarkable how quickly this team can carve out a whole new identity as the bottom half gets going.

“That’s what this lineup can do,” said Schneider. You see Brandon come over. [Danny] Jansen has great bats and Witt has great bats. Kiermayer exposure today is a few clicks away.

“It lengthens it and you don’t have to rely so much on the top of the ranking.”

Any lineup with George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Beau Pechet will produce some numbers, but good lineups become great with depth. When all of this comes together, you see why Schneider says the Blue Jays’ A game is better than everyone else’s A game.

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