TORONTO – As Toronto Blue Jays management attempts to improve its roster before Tuesday’s trade deadline, a pair of acquisitions in the past 12 months, Jose Berrios and Matt Chapman continue to enjoy their most productive stints with their new team.
Berrios pitched another sound seven innings with seven strikeouts and surrendered only one run on three hits in the Blue Jays (57-45) 4-1 victory against the light-hitting Detroit Tigers (41-62) on Sunday.
Chapman drilled a two-run, two-out homer in the second inning to spark Toronto’s offence. He also singled in the fourth inning to reach base safely in 10 straight games, which has seen him go 16 for 33 (.485) with five homers and 12 RBI.
“I have found something that’s going to stay with me,” said Chapman, who discovered he was standing too tall and not using his legs enough to keep his bat longer in the hitting zone.
“I’m a little bit smarter now (with his approach at the plate).”
Chapman, acquired in mid-March in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, has 20 homers on the season.
“He’s made a small adjustment with just trying to stay in his legs a little bit more,” Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider added.
“What he’s meant to the lineup is he’s carried us. Since the (all-star) break, he’s been on fire.”
Most of Chapman’s homers have been hit into the Blue Jays bullpen, and his teammates who occupy seats there have given Chapman grief about not acknowledging them more.
“I’m more concerned about touching the bases,” said Chapman, who looked in the bullpen’s direction as he neared third base.
The Blue Jays snatched three of four from the Tigers and have gone 11-3 since Schneider assumed control earlier this month.
Berrios (8-4) enjoyed his best month as a Blue Jay, checking in with three wins and three no-decisions in six starts. The Blue Jays have won 13 straight home games with Berrios starting, a club record surpassing the late Roy Halladay’s 12 in a row in 2007-08.
“He was landing his curveball,” Schneider said. “He was spotting his fastball up. He was on, so it’s just been more of the same. He’s been really consistent his last five or six starts, and today was just another example.”
His brother-in-law, Javier Baez, was the only visitor to hurt Berrios in the series finale. In the Detroit shortstop’s first at-bat, he hooked three shots foul down the left-field line before settling for a walk in the nine-pitch at-bat.
In the fourth inning, Baez led off with a homer to left-centre field, bringing Detroit within a run of Toronto.
“I texted him and told him he got me,” said Berrios, a trade deadline acquisition from the Minnesota Twins a year ago.
The Blue Jays rallied for a pair of runs in the fifth inning thanks to a walk and doubles to left from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette off Detroit starter Garrett Hill (1-3).
The win put the home side in a perfect mood for their charter flight to Tampa Bay. The team planned a beach party at the homes of Florida neighbours Berrios and George Springer.
“Everybody’s going to dress up and wear beach wear. Luckily, that’s like most of my clothes.” the 29-year-old Chapman said.
A team golf outing was scheduled for Monday.
Blue Jays righthanded starter Alek Manoah threw for the first time since being hit on his right elbow by a Jonathan Schoop comebacker on Friday.
Manoah felt fine and expects to make his next scheduled start in Minnesota against the Twins on Thursday.
The Blue Jays don’t play again until an hour after the MLB Tuesday’s trade deadline at 6 p.m. ET when they begin a nine-game trip to Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Baltimore. Toronto’s Kevin Gausman (7-8) will face Rays starter Drew Rasmussen (6-3) in the opener of their two-game set in Tampa Bay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2022.