Toronto starter Kevin Gausman set the early tone in the opener of a key three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.
The Blue Jays' offence took care of the rest.
Gausman threw seven shutout innings — retiring the first eight batters in order — in a 7-2 victory that ended Boston's seven-game winning streak. George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Matt Chapman homered for the Blue Jays, who moved a half-game behind the second-place Red Sox in the American League East division standings.
"One thing about our offence, if our pitching gives us a chance we're going to be all right," said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. "That's what Gausman did today. He gave us a chance and we swung the bats."
Springer and Guerrero went deep in Toronto's three-run third inning and Chapman ended Boston starter Connor Seabold's night with a two-run shot in the fifth.
Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez chipped in with two hits apiece. It was just the third loss in 14 games for Boston (42-32).
The game kicked off an eight-game homestand for the Blue Jays (41-32) against American League East division foes.
Toronto will play a rare five-game series later in the week — including a Saturday doubleheader — against the Tampa Bay Rays, who are a half-game behind Toronto in the standings.
Springer drew a leadoff walk in the first inning and scored on a Bichette double. The ball curled into foul territory down the left-field line and took an unusual bounce off the wall padding, allowing Springer to score without a throw.
Gausman (6-6), who had lost his last three decisions, threw a season-high 110 pitches. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out 10.
"I definitely got some calls that went my way so that helps," he said. "It was a pretty big zone."
Springer hit a solo shot in the third inning for his 14th homer of the season. Bichette singled and Guerrero followed with his team-leading 18th homer, which had a game-high exit velocity of 108.2 miles per hour.
Chapman's blast was his 11th homer of the season. Seabold (0-1) allowed seven earned runs, nine hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings while striking out seven.
Boston managed just one extra-base hit, a fluke double by Rafael Devers in the sixth inning that caromed off the side of second base before bouncing into left field.
It was Gausman's ninth quality start of the season.
"He pounds the strike zone early on and then he expands," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "If you expand with him, you’re going to have nights like this."
David Phelps threw a clean eighth inning and Shaun Anderson gave up two runs in the ninth before getting Rob Refsnyder to fly out with two runners on to end it.
Announced attendance at Rogers Centre was 25,498. The game took two hours 59 minutes to play.
Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk remains in third place among American League players in voting for next month's all-star game.
Kirk had 1,857,670 votes in the latest AL voting update Monday from Major League Baseball. He trails Yankees star Aaron Judge (2,433,088) and Angels slugger Mike Trout (2,134,471).
Guerrero leads the voting at first base (1,624,228), Bichette leads at shortstop (1,084,794) and Springer holds the third outfield slot (1,048,403).
Before the game, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander Jeremy Beasley to Triple-A Buffalo and selected Anderson to the major-league roster.
Anderson was 2-1 with a 3.91 earned-run average over 14 appearances for the Bisons this season. The Blue Jays also transferred left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (elbow) to the 60-day injured list.
Both teams have right-handed starters lined up for the rest of the series. Ross Stripling (4-2, 3.08) is tabbed for Tuesday night against Boston's Michael Wacha (6-1, 2.34).
Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah (9-2, 2.05) is scheduled to start Wednesday's finale against Nick Pivetta (8-5, 3.25).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press