MLB

Chapman, Bradley Jr. dingers help Blue Jays outslug Phillies in offensive series opener

Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. added a three-run shot in the ninth and the Toronto Blue Jays used 21 hits to rough up the Philadelphia Phillies 18-11 on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams fighting for wild-card berths.

Toronto collects 21 hits as team firms its grip on AL's top wild-card spot in 18-11 win

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., centre, celebrates with Santiago Espinal, left, after hitting a three-run home run during a 18-11 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)

Toronto interim manager John Schneider walked out of the clubhouse after his team scored in all but one inning and — this was almost as big as its 10 extra-base hits — had fans inside Philadelphia's ballpark chanting "Let's go, Blue Jays!" and simply deadpanned: "Pitchers' duel."

Not quite.

Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. added a three-run shot in the ninth and the Blue Jays used 21 hits to rough up the Phillies 18-11 on Tuesday night in a matchup of teams headed in opposite directions as they play for wild-card berths.

Further incentivizing the team's playoff push, unvaccinated professional athletes like MLB players could soon be allowed to play in Toronto in the playoffs should the Blue Jays make the postseason.

The federal government is leaning toward dropping the vaccine requirement for people entering Canada — ending random COVID-19 testing at airports — and making the use of the ArriveCan app optional by the end of this month, a senior government source told CBC News.

While multiple sources said Ottawa is "likely" to drop these mandatory requirements by Sept. 30, they added that the proposal has not been given a final sign-off by the prime minister. Canada, like the United States, requires all people to be vaccinated when entering the country.

The Blue Jays are in better shape, not only as winners of five of seven games, but with a firm grip on the top wild-card spot in the American League. The Phillies, who suffered a three-game weekend sweep at Atlanta, lost their fifth straight game.

Philadelphia kept a 2 1/2-game lead (plus the tiebreaker) over the Milwaukee Brewers for the final National League wild-card spot. The Mets beat the Brewers 7-5.

Kyle Schwarber hit his NL-best 40th homer of the season for the Phillies in the eighth, a three-run shot that made it 14-10. He became the first Phillies slugger to hit 40 since Ryan Howard did it from 2006-2009.

J.T. Realmuto hit his 20th homer and went 5 for 5 for the Phillies, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

Raimel Tapia and Danney Jansen each had three RBIs for the Blue Jays. Toronto scored in every inning but the fourth. Jansen, though, struck out against backup catcher-turned-reliever Garrett Stubbs in the ninth to chants of "Stubbs! Stubbs! Stubbs!"

The Phillies have 15 games left, including five more on this final homestand of the season. Toronto has 14 more to go and just opened a six-game road trip.

"You go through lulls in the season and this isn't the greatest spot to go in, right?" 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper said. "We lost but I think it's a stepping stone into tomorrow and hopefully the offence can show up, defence can show up and pitching, as well. We're going to need that down the stretch and into the postseason."

Harper stuck an optimistic tone with his postseason talk. But they're not going to get there — or last long if they do — with the way they played against the Blue Jays; the crucial mistakes in the middle innings, first when Harper was doubled up to end a rally in the fifth and then shortstop Bryson Stott's two-base error in the sixth that led to an unearned run.

Trailing 7-1 in the fifth, the Phillies broke though against Toronto starter Ross Stripling. Dalton Guthrie made it 7-2 on a solo shot for his first big league homer. Rhys Hoskins had a run-scoring double and Harper and Realmuto added consecutive RBI singles that made it 7-5.

Blue Jays reliever Zach Pop (3-0) helped them escape the inning when he retired Stott on a flyout to centre and George Springer caught Harper at second to end the threat.

"We just have to get back to winning and if we keep playing the way we're playing, we're going to do that," Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said.

Stripling gave up nine hits and five runs in of four-plus innings, ending a streak of 16 straight starts of allowing three or less earned runs, one shy of tying the franchise mark.

"It wasn't a good day to be a pitcher on either team, for sure," Stripling said. "But we kind of showed our strength today which is the ability to pour it on at times. We really showed that off today."

Kyle Gibson (10-7) couldn't get it done and was left in to get battered around for seven runs and 12 hits over five innings. His trouble started early when Chapman's 27th homer on a drive into the left field seats made it 3-0 in the first inning. The Blue Jays scored two in the second and tacked on single runs in the third and sixth to get the run-scoring rolling.

"You kind of knew it was one of those nights around the third or fourth inning," Schneider said.

The Blue Jays fell shy of the 29 hits and 28 runs they scored against the Red Sox in July.

The Blue Jays hit five leadoff doubles and seven overall. Toscar Hernandez had four hits and set a career high with 30 doubles. Vlad Guerrero Jr. extended his hitting streak to 13 games (.316 over that span).

Phillies centre fielder Brandon Marsh left after the third inning with a left knee contusion after running into a wall trying to make a catch. Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos could begin a rehab assignment this week as part of his return from a strained oblique. Castellanos has only 13 home runs and 61 RBIs in the first season of a $100 million, five-year contract.

The Phillies send Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.07 ERA) to the mound against Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.45). Wheeler, the 2021 NL Cy Young Award runner-up, will make his first start since Aug. 20. He missed with five starts with right forearm tendinitis.

With files from CBC News

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