TORONTO (AP) — Kevin Kiermaier hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of three consecutive wild pitches by Cole Ragans to beat the Royals 5-2 on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep.
Toronto came in tied with Seattle in the wild card race, 1 1/2 games ahead of Texas. The Rangers begin a four-game series north of the border on Monday. The Blue Jays moved a game ahead of the Mariners in the wild card after Seattle lost at Tampa Bay.
The Blue Jays tie the game on three consecutive wild pitches from Cole Ragans pic.twitter.com/1hsIUoRF9k
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) September 10, 2023
Kiermaier broke a 2-2 tie with a home run off right-hander Taylor Clarke (2-5), his eighth. Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio made it 5-2 with RBI singles off Jackson Kowar in the eighth.
Blue Jays right-hander José Berríos (10-10) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to snap a five-start winless streak.
Right-hander Yimi García got two outs in the eighth and left-hander Génesis Cabrera retired MJ Melendez to strand the tying run at third.
Jordan Romano wrapped it up for his 34th save in 37 chances as the Royals left the bases loaded.
The major league-worst Royals (44-100) lost their fourth straight, giving them 100 losses for the first time since 2019.
Ragans extended his scoreless innings streak to 26 with five shutout innings to begin the game, but his outing unraveled in the sixth.
The Blue Jays didn’t put a runner in scoring position until Ragans issued consecutive two-out walks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Davis Schneider in the sixth.
Facing trouble for the first time, Ragans suddenly lost his control and his footing. He slipped and threw wildly to the backstop on his first pitch to Alejandro Kirk as both runners moved up.
Ragans waved off manager Matt Quatraro and the trainer, then threw another pitch to the backstop, allowing Guerrero to score. Ragans slipped again on his next pitch as Schneider raced home with the tying run.
Third base umpire and crew chief Jeff Nelson came to inspect the mound after the third wild throw. Ragans was replaced after walking Kirk with his next pitch. Clarke came on and retired Whit Merrifield to end the inning.
Ragans allowed two runs and one hit in 5 2/3 innings. He walked a career-high six and struck out six.
George Springer’s leadoff single in the third was the only hit off Ragans.
Kansas City scored twice off Berríos in the top of the sixth. Kyle Isbel led off with a triple and came home on Bobby Witt Jr.’s one-out double. Witt stole third and scored on Salvador Perez’s grounder.
THIS IS 40
Witt’s stolen base in the sixth was his 40th. It’s the 25th time in Royals history that a player has stolen 40 or more bases. The last to do it was Whit Merrifield in 2021.
Royals: Neither the Royals nor the White Sox had named a starter for Monday’s game at Chicago.
Blue Jays: RHP Chris Bassitt (14-7, 3.69 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday’s opener against the Rangers. His expected opponent is RHP Dane Dunning (9-6, 3.88).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
Ian Harrison, The Associated Press