After yet another tough Kikuchi outing, Blue Jays’ Schneider isn’t panicking

Blue Jays manager John Schneider joined Blair and Barker to discuss what he's seen from Yusei Kikuchi of late that still gives him hope and faith that he can remain a vital part of the team's pitching staff down the stretch.

The Baltimore Orioles are just 3.0 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League wild-card race, so results like Monday’s 7-4 loss are not what interim manager John Schneider wants to see at this stage of the season.

Yusei Kikuchi got the start in Monday’s loss to the Orioles, allowing six hits, three homers and five earned runs in 5.0 innings pitched.

The Blue Jays were down 3-0 after the first and 5-1 after three innings and his teammates were unable to mount a comeback.

“He’s got to try to limit the tough innings,” Schneider said during an appearance on Sportsnet 590’s Blair and Barker show Tuesday morning. “It’s been traditionally early in the game and if he can get through that, I thought, barring a couple bad pitches or a couple back-to-back hitters he did well (Monday) and with a really taxed bullpen he got into the sixth and gave us some length.

“Was it ideal? No. He’d be the first to tell you it wasn’t ideal from the start, but when he’s on it’s really good stuff, swing-and-miss stuff.”

Toronto is just 6-13 this year when Kikuchi pitches and half of those wins occurred back in May. Kikuchi has also given up 14 home runs since the start of June. Despite that, Schneider gave the 31-year-old a vote of confidence.

“He’s going to keep getting his opportunities and hopefully just find a way to get a little bit more consistent with the stuff being in the zone,” Schneider explained.

The Blue Jays (60-49) are 14-7 since Schneider took over for Charlie Montoyo in July. The team is in second place in the AL East and 1.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays as the top wild-card seed entering Tuesday’s slate.

Toronto went 2-2 in Minnesota over the weekend and dropped the first of their three-game road series against Baltimore.

Alek Manoah will be on the mound for Toronto in Oriole Park at Camden Yards Tuesday night.

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