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After two balls opened the battle, the 21-year-old leadoff hitter fouled off seven consecutive pitches — a mix of four-seamers and sliders — before Pruitt issued ball three. Then came another pair of foul balls before Bichette crushed lucky No. 13, a Statcast-projected 393 feet away to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.

Bichette’s leadoff HR on 13 pitch
Bichette’s leadoff HR on 13 pitch
Sep. 5th, 2019
It marked Bichette’s ninth home run and second career leadoff homer. His first came on Aug. 20 against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Bichette finished 2-for-5 on the night, and has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games — he has a .329 average with 17 RBIs in 34 career games.

“I keep waiting for him to struggle a little bit because he’s only human, and he keeps doing what he’s doing,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s been fun to watch. I’ve been in the front row watching this kid break record after record. … It’s amazing what he’s doing.”

The second inning nearly brought more of the same. Bichette stepped into the box with two on and two out and forced Pruitt to throw another eight pitches — including one ball and four that were fouled off — before grounding into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Just facing Bichette alone caused Pruitt to throw 21 pitches in his first two innings.

The right-hander needed 50 pitches just to get through two frames.

In contrast, Toronto righty Trent Thornton held the Rays to one earned run (three total) on four hits over his 4 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old also fanned four to move to 127 on the season, which tied him with Jerry Garvin (1977) for third-most strikeouts by a rookie in Blue Jays history.

“I felt really good,” Thornton said. “I felt like I was able to execute the majority of my pitches tonight, and that’s the best my changeup’s felt all year. Just when baserunners get on, I have to do a better job of limiting damage and getting out of the inning quicker, instead of elevating my pitch count.”

By the time the fifth inning rolled around, the Rays had moved ahead, 2-1, and Pruitt’s pitch count was in the high 70s. Still, the third time indeed was the charm for Tampa Bay’s starter, as Bichette jumped on a first-pitch slider and grounded out to short.

While Pruitt won that battle, Bichette also marked the last hitter he’d face for the night, freeing up the Blue Jays to work on the Rays’ bullpen.

“I threw an entire inning to [Bichette],” Pruitt said. “Then the third time, he swung on the first pitch and I said, ‘Why couldn’t you do that the first two times, man?’”

Once Pruitt was out, Bichette was rewarded for his efforts. He pounced on reliever Oliver Drake in the seventh inning, clubbing a two-run homer that tied the game at 4 — Bichette’s second career multihomer game (the first one was Aug. 20).

Bichette’s game-tying 2-run homer
Bichette’s game-tying 2-run homer
Sep. 5th, 2019
Bichette also became the fifth Toronto rookie to hit double-digit homers and 12th on the team.

The sixth inning brought with it another rookie boost, as Cavan Biggio was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and later stole second base. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove him home on a line-drive single to deep centre field to bring the Blue Jays to within one run, 3-2, for his 60th RBI.

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