Published June 2, 2024

Vogelbach drives in a pair as Blue Jays top Pirates 5-4 for fifth win in six games

By Gregory Strong
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt (40) throws the ball during first inning MLB interleague action against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in Toronto, Sunday, June 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Blue Jays manager John Schneider tinkered with his lineup on Sunday — notably moving Vladimir Guerrero Jr. from first to third base — in an attempt to get more power in the batting order. 

The plan worked like a charm in a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Rogers Centre. 

Daniel Vogelbach hit a go-ahead two-run double in Toronto's three-run fifth inning as the Blue Jays used an 11-hit attack to take the rubber game of the three-game interleague series.

It was Guerrero's first start on the hot corner since late in his 2019 rookie season. 

"Vladdy is comfortable there," Schneider said. "Today was a target date with everything he was working through to put himself to be in a position to be ready. And Vogie is swinging the bat well. So it worked out today."

The positional change allowed Justin Turner to start at first base with Vogelbach batting fifth as the designated hitter. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who has played primarily at third base this season, started at second base. 

"Obviously I signed as a third baseman so it is my favourite position," Guerrero said via interpreter Hector Lebron. "But I'm the kind of player that thinks if you can play both corners, first and third, the right way that will give your team and manager more options, like today."

Daulton Varsho had two runs and reached base three times for the Blue Jays, who improved to 28-30. Guerrero drove in a run, scored and had a hit in Toronto's fifth victory in six games.

"I think the game has just slowed down for (Guerrero)," said Schneider, who noted it was not a full-time positional change but just an occasional option. "He's kept himself in good physical shape and that allows him to do it. 

"He gets some work in (at third) every now and then to keep himself fresh."

Toronto relievers Chad Green, Trevor Richards and Nate Pearson each threw an inning of scoreless relief. Yimi Garcia gave up a run in the ninth before earning his third save. 

Former Blue Jays slugger Rowdy Tellez drove in four runs for the Pirates (27-32), who left 13 runners on base. 

Blue Jays starter Chris Bassitt (6-6) had a few hiccups over his five-inning appearance but managed to stifle the Pittsburgh hitters at the right times. 

"That ended up being the game," said Pirates manager Derek Shelton. "We left eight guys on in the first (four) innings. We had the ability to capitalize."

Tellez hit an RBI single in the third but Toronto pulled even in the bottom half after Varsho doubled and moved to third base on a sacrifice fly by Kiner-Falefa. Varsho scored when Pirates starter Quinn Priester (0-5) threw a wild pitch. 

Tellez gave Pittsburgh the lead again with a two-run double in the fifth but the Blue Jays quickly answered with an RBI single by Guerrero. Vogelbach greeted reliever Hunter Stratton to the game with a two-out double for a lead Toronto wouldn't relinquish.

"I think as a team, our at-bats have been really good," Vogelbach said. "We're not chasing, we're grinding pitchers out and just finding a way to win."

Varsho's speed helped Toronto tack on a critical run in the sixth inning. He reached on a bunt single and moved to third base on an errant pickoff attempt before scoring on a double by Davis Schneider.

Guerrero had to wait until the seventh inning to field a ball at third base. He scooped a grounder from Nick Gonzales and made a strong throw to Turner for the out.

Varsho also showed off his defensive skills in the inning by tracking down a Tellez drive with a highlight-reel catch in centre field. 

Tellez made it interesting in the ninth with an RBI single that scored Oneil Cruz from second base. Garcia fanned Ji Hwan Bae — his third strikeout of the inning — to end the game in two hours 57 minutes.

Bassitt allowed three earned runs, eight hits and a walk. He had seven strikeouts and hit three batters.

Priester gave up four earned runs and eight hits, didn't issue a walk and struck out three. Announced attendance was 34,887. 


Bassitt reached the 1,000 mark for career innings pitched when Cruz flew out in the third.

The right-hander, who's in his second season with the Blue Jays, made his big-league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2014.


The No. 4 was emblazoned on game uniforms Sunday for Lou Gehrig Day. 

The Yankees legend died in 1941 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that now bears his name. 

It has been four years since Major League Baseball established Lou Gehrig Day. The Iron Horse wore No. 4 during his playing career.


The Blue Jays will continue their seven-game homestand Monday night with the opener of a four-game series against Baltimore.

Kevin Gausman (4-3, 4.14 earned-run average) is tabbed to start for Toronto. The Orioles have yet to announce their starter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024. 

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