Bichette’s blast brings back home run jacket as Blue Jays take series win vs. White Sox

Bo Bichette hit a two-run shot and finished with three RBIs, Daulton Varsho and Davis Schneider had two RBIs each, and the Toronto Blue Jays handled the Chicago White Sox 9-2.

TORONTO — The Blue Jays’ offensive woes have been well-documented this season but prior to Wednesday’s game, yet another stat outlining those struggles was brought up to manager John Schneider.

The club had received no home runs from the No. 4 spot in the lineup this year. According to MLB Network, that 47-game drought marked the longest a team has gone into a season without a homer from its cleanup spot since the 1997 Houston Astros went 60 games without one.

Schneider was asked about the dubious stat and promptly offered a prediction. 

“Yeah, Bo’s going deep tonight,” Schneider replied with a smile. 

Turns out the manager should try his hand at lotto tickets.

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Bo Bichette, batting cleanup for the 10th time this season, launched a rocket off Chicago White Sox rookie Nick Nastrini for a two-run homer that put an exclamation mark on a seven-run second inning for the Blue Jays, who cruised to a 9-2 win in front of 28,670 at Rogers Centre. 

The win improved the Blue Jays to 22-26 on the season and helped the club capture its first series win since April 19-21 against the Padres in San Diego. 

After Bichette rounded the bases and reached the dugout he was greeted by teammate Jose Berrios, who placed the club’s long-forgotten home run jacket over the shortstop’s shoulders. The celebratory garment was a staple of years past — think back to the days of Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — but the team decided to retire it ahead of the 2023 season. 

“Just felt like it was something we should do,” Bichette said when asked about bringing back the jacket. “I don’t think it has anything to do with if we play good or not but that’s why we brought it, because [we] think it could help.”

The blazer, which has been updated from its previous iteration, was once a symbol of the dynamic, power-laden offence the Blue Jays boasted. The current club, which entered Wednesday with MLB’s second-worst offence, can use every ounce of mojo it can muster. 

“Guys have been talking about it a little bit and trying to bring back some good vibes about hitting homers,” said Schneider. “It’s player-driven and cool that they got on board with it.”

In a way it was ironic that Bichette was the first to don the jacket as his offensive struggles have been among the biggest disappointments on the team this year. However, Bichette swinging a hot bat could go a long way toward a Blue Jays resurgence. His homer was his third of the season and came off the bat at 103.4 m.p.h. Bichette added an RBI single in the fourth and collected six hits in 11 at-bats during the Blue Jays’ three-game set against the White Sox.

Davis Schneider and Daulton Varsho each drove in two runs on Wednesday, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added an RBI single. 

Bichette said he’s noticed a change in the Blue Jays’ dugout of late.

“I think there’s more energy, more fight,” he said. “Like today, we scored runs and we kept on scoring runs, which is incredibly important, down or up, to keep on getting after it. It’s definitely been better.”

The run support benefited Blue Jays starter Chris Bassitt, who allowed five hits over seven scoreless innings. It was easily the right-hander’s best start of the season and lowered his ERA to 4.39. He walked two and struck out four while tossing 107 pitches. 

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“He had really good stuff and he kind of knew it going in, and I think he was trying to overpower guys early and then he really went to pitching,” said Schneider. “That’s when he’s at his best and it doesn’t matter who he’s facing when he’s doing that.”

Up next for the Blue Jays is a four-game series against the Tigers in Detroit, followed by a pair of three-game sets against the White Sox and Pirates. In total, including the now-completed series against Chicago, that’s a critical 13-game stretch against weaker opponents for the Blue Jays as they look to dig themselves out of the basement of the American League East. 

“Media and fans are just like, ‘Hey, in this next 10, 15 games, you got to do this. If we’re worried about Game 10, 11, 12, 13, you might lose Game 1,” Bassitt said. “Don’t worry about the future. Just control what you can control in that moment. For us it’s just one game at a time and whatever happens, happens. Hopefully we just string together enough really good games and put together a [good] stretch. But looking ahead really is not an option in this sport. Once you look ahead, you’re screwed.”

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Added Bichette: “At the end of the day what we just did is now in the past, and we got to do it tomorrow and we got to do it the next day … We got a long way to go.”

With two wins out of three against the White Sox, the Blue Jays are off to a good start. They’ll be in better shape, though, if the home run jacket is taken off its hanger more often. 

“Whether it’s a jacket, whether it’s a handshake, whether it’s a red carpet, whatever it is, you need to have something that just unifies everybody,” said Schneider. “I thought it was cool that they broke it out today. I think it really just builds team chemistry no matter what you’re doing. I’m a believer in little things like that go a long way. 

“I’m not saying a home run jacket is going to fix our season or do anything different, but when guys are kind of pulling in the same direction, it’s a good thing.”

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