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Will Brennan's home run helps Cleveland Guardians past Toronto Blue Jays 3-1

Cleveland Guardians' Brayan Rocchio (4) slides into home safely as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen (9) plays the ball during fifth inning MLB baseball action in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO — Toronto's struggling offence is beginning to weigh on Kevin Gausman and the Blue Jays' other starting pitchers.

Will Brennan's solo home run in the fourth inning helped the Cleveland Guardians to a 3-1 win over Toronto on Friday. Gausman said there's mounting pressure on the Blue Jays starters as Toronto's offence continues to sputter.

"As much as you try to block it out it's really hard to," said Gausman. "I mean, the reality is, if we don't pitch well we probably lose."

Gausman (5-5) struck out six over 5 1/3 innings, but allowed three runs on eight hits to take the loss. Genesis Cabrera, Brendon Little and Zach Pop of Brampton, Ont., came out of Toronto's bullpen.

Davis Schneider's RBI single in the sixth was all the offence Toronto (33-36) could muster. The Blue Jays have scored 266 runs this season, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for fourth fewest in Major League Baseball. Their -37 run differential is the sixth worst MLB.

"Offensively, we're struggling and so defensively, as pitchers, we need to be better. We almost have to be perfect," said Gausman. "It's tough, it adds some pressure.

"We're in the big leagues. You feel pressure every single day, every game is pressure. It doesn't add any more to it but that's just the reality of the situation we're in."

Daniel Schneemann had an RBI double in the second and Andres Gimenez drove in another run with a single in the fifth for Cleveland (44-23).

Logan Allen (7-3) only gave up three hits for a run, striking out three, over five innings. Relievers Cade Smith, Scott Barlow, Sam Hentges, Hunter Gaddis and Emmanuel Clase preserved Allen's win. It was Clase's 21st save of the season.

"They've got a great bullpen, so it's a tough ask to really line some stuff up against their bullpen," said Toronto manager John Schneider. "It's kind of how they're built."

Back-to-back doubles got the Guardians an early lead in the second inning.

Brennan banged the ball off the right-field wall to easily reach second, then Schneemann doubled to left to bring him home. It was only Schneemann's third run batted in this season, as he has split time between the Guardians and their triple-A affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, this year.

Brennan added to that lead in the fourth, hitting a two-out home run to left field. His sixth of the season came after Gausman threw five consecutive four-seam fastballs to the Cleveland right-fielder. Brennan launched the 92.9 m.p.h. four-seamer 349 feet for a 2-0 lead.

"Other teams that have kind of got to (Gausman), they own the fastball and that’s what we did today," said Brennan. "That split is really good, it’s a really good pitch. It’s worked for him his entire career. It’s hard to lay off of it but when you do, you can kind of own that fastball and have success that way."

Gimenez tacked on another run for the Guardians in the next inning with an RBI single to right field. Rocchio, who led off the inning with a double to right, slid into home before Toronto catcher Danny Jansen could apply the tag.

Schneider replied for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the sixth. His base hit landed in centre field and gave Ernie Clement time to score from second. Schneider has 33 RBIs on the season, the most on Toronto's lineup.

PRIDE NIGHT — The Blue Jays celebrated Pride Night with rainbow-coloured bunting hanging in the outfield, re-done facing on the home dugout, and gave away 15,000 black corduroy hats with rainbow piping across the brim. They also donated $46,000 with TD Canada Trust to local LGBTQ+ charities.

VOGELBACH DFAed — Utility player Addison Barger was called up from the Blue Jays' triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., hours before the game. Schneider said Barger would play in the outfield and at third base. Veteran designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

ON DECK — Toronto's starting pitcher for Saturday's matinee has not been announced.

Carlos Carrasco (2-5) was scheduled for the Guardians.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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