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Springer powers Blue Jays past Royals 5-1

TORONTO – George Springer drove in four runs on three hits, including two home runs, to power the Toronto Blue Jays past the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on Saturday.

Cavan Biggio added an RBI single as Toronto (79-63) opened a critical 10-game homestand with back-to-back wins.

Kevin Gausman (11-8) was superb for the Blue Jays, striking out 10 and giving up one run on just two hits over eight innings. Jordan Hicks pitched the ninth.

Edward Olivares belted his 10th home run of the season for lowly Kansas City (44-99).

James McArthur pitched the first two innings of the game before giving way to 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke (1-15), who gave up four runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out four over 3 2/3 innings. Angel Zerpa and Steven Cruz came on in relief.

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The Blue Jays entered the game with a 1 1/2 game lead over the Texas Rangers for the third and final American League wild-card berth. Texas hosted the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

Toronto manager John Schneider said he’s checking in on the AL standings, once his job is done for the day.

“You’re interested and you’re curious, but we have to just worry about us,” Schneider said in his office before Saturday’s matinee. “You’re worried about what you’re doing that day, that night, and then look at whatever happened around the league after that.”

Springer opened the scoring in the fourth, putting a 78.9 m.p.h. slider from Greinke just over the left-field wall, with one fan diving onto the ball as it bounced around under the seats.

Olivares replied for Kansas City in the next inning, launching an 83.3 m.p.h. slider from Gausman to deep left field. It travelled 431 feet, bouncing off the neon Budweiser sign hanging on the ballpark’s middle deck and down into the 100 level.

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Springer struck again in the fifth with a base hit up the middle to drive in Alejandro Kirk and Daulton Varsho. Kirk led off the inning with a walk and was moved to third when Varsho doubled to right. Springer’s two RBIs gave Toronto a 3-1 lead.

The 41,443 fans at Rogers Centre roared their approval in the sixth when Biggio doubled to right. As the ball bounced in the outfield, burly Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rounded second, third, and charged home, sliding under a tag from Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez for another run.

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Springer’s second homer of the day came with two outs in the seventh. He launched an 88.2 m.p.h. slider from Zerpa 382 feet and into the visitor’s bullpen. It was his 19th home run of the season and his first multi-homer game of the year.

Gausman finished the eighth inning of his quality start with three consecutive strikeouts, adding to his American League-leading total of 224.

NO BO — All-star shortstop Bo Bichette was held out of Toronto’s lineup on Saturday, a day after he returned from the 10-day injured list. Schneider said that Bichette felt no discomfort after Toronto’s 5-4 win Friday, but the team wanted to ease him back into playing every day after he strained his right quadriceps.

ON DECK — José Berríos (9-10) will take the mound as Toronto closes out its series against Kansas City on Sunday. Cole Ragans (6-4) is the scheduled starter for the Royals.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2023.