TORONTO (AP) — Teoscar Hernández and Matt Chapman hit three-run home runs, Alek Manoah snapped a three-start winless streak with seven strong innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the depleted Kansas City Royals 8-1 on Friday night.
Kansas City, in last place in the AL Central, was without 10 unvaccinated players and bolstered its roster with Triple-A and Double-A prospects. The Royals, who won the first game of the series 3-1 on Thursday, lost for the second time in seven games.
Foreign nationals who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are not allowed to enter Canada, save for limited exceptions that require a 14-day quarantine. Unvaccinated baseball players are placed on the restricted list, which means they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time.
Among the 10 players on Kansas City’s 26-man roster who stayed home were All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield, future cornerstones Kyle Isbel and MJ Melendez and outfielder Michael A. Taylor. Also barred were first baseman Hunter Dozier, right-handed starters Brad Keller and Brady Singer, reliever Dylan Coleman and backup catcher Cam Gallagher.
“There’s no rift between us,” Royals infielder Nicky Lopez said of Kansas City’s absentees. “We respect their decision.”
A second-year right-hander, Manoah (10-4) came in having lost consecutive starts for the first time in his brief career. He turned that around by giving up one run and four hits, walking none and striking out six.
“He’s a beast,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “He’s got another gear with runners in scoring position when he runs into trouble.”
Royals manager Mike Matheny said Manoah’s slider was tricky for the young Royals to handle.
“He’s got a different slider,” Matheny said. “I mean, it just has different metrics to it, it has different break. You could tell the guys were having a little bit of trouble with him, especially some of the guys who hadn’t seen him before, which was most of them. He really capitalized on that pitch today.”
Manoah’s next appearance will be for the American League at next week’s All-Star game in Los Angeles.
“Hopefully I can get in the game early so I get to throw to (Blue Jays teammate and catcher Alejandro Kirk),” Manoah said. “Hopefully Dusty Baker will put me in there early.”
Trevor Richards and Anthony Banda each worked an inning of relief.
Chapman and Raimel Tapia each had three hits as the Blue Jays piled up 16 total. Toronto is 5-10 in July.
Hernández connected off Royals right-hander Zack Greinke in the third, his 12th homer of the season. Chapman’s homer, his 15th, came off Royals call- up Carlos Hernández in the fifth.
Greinke (3-6) allowed four runs, three earned, in four innings, losing to the Blue Jays for the first time since June 5, 2009, when new teammate first baseman Nick Pratto was 10 years old. Greinke had gone 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts against Toronto since.
“At times he made some pretty good pitches that were getting hit and that was frustrating for him,” Matheny said.
Pratto had his first big league hit, a single in the fifth, but the Royals didn’t manage much against Manoah, who improved to 11-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 18 career starts north of the border.
Shortstop Maikel Garcia became the fifth Kansas City player to make his debut this series when he replaced Bobby Witt Jr. on defense in the bottom of the sixth.
Pratto doubled in the ninth to finish 2 for 4.
PASSING OLD HOSS
Greinke made his 503rd career start, breaking a tie with Old Hoss Radbourn and moving into 46th place on baseball’s all-time list.
START ME UP
Blue Jays starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of the past nine games.
Kansas CIty has lost 18 of its past 26 meetings with the Blue Jays, including 10 of 12 in Toronto.
Kansas City returned LHP Angel Zerpa to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, activated RHP Josh Staumont (strained neck) off the injured list and recalled Hernández from Triple-A Omaha. Hernández replaced RHP Brad Keller, who last pitched Monday, meaning he could not be replaced until Friday.
Blue Jays: After throwing a side session Thursday, LHP Yusei Kikcuhi will test his strained neck with a bullpen session Sunday. Kikuchi has been out since July 6.
LHP Daniel Lynch (3-7, 4.92) starts for the Royals on Saturday. Toronto has not named a starter, but RHP Max Castillo (0-0, 2.30) is a candidate to start for the Blue Jays. Lynch is 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts against Toronto.
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