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Kikuchi turns in another strong spring start as Jays blank Twins 3-0

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, of Japan, delivers to the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Friday, March 17, 2023, in Dunedin, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Chris O'Meara

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi turned in another impressive spring training start as the Blue Jays downed the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Thursday.

Kikuchi struck out nine over five scoreless innings, scattering three hits and allowing one walk over his start.

The lefty lowered his spring earned-run average from 1.38 to 1.00. He is 2-1 with 25 strikeouts over 18 innings in six pre-season starts.

Kikuchi came into the season on the heels of a mediocre debut season with the Jays with a 6-7 record and 5.19 ERA.

He has made a strong case to join ace Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios and newcomer Chris Bassitt in an impressive rotation.

Four Jays relievers combined to allow just one hit and one walk over the game's final four innings. Nate Pearson picked up the save.

Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on RBI singles from Spencer Horwitz and Orelvis Martinez.

Horwitz capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Minnesota starter Tyler Mahle allowed all three Jays runs in picking up the loss.

Toronto (16-11) faces Philadelphia on Friday at Dunedin, Fla.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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