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Pitchers face former teams as Jays finish set vs. Giants

Two pitchers get an opportunity to remind their former team of what they are missing when right-handers Kevin Gausman and Jordan Hicks duel as the Toronto Blue Jays and the host San Francisco Giants conclude a three-game series Thursday afternoon.

The teams split the first two games of the interleague set. The Blue Jays got even with a 10-6 shellacking on Wednesday after watching the Giants celebrate a walk-off wild pitch that ended 4-3 win on Tuesday.

The decisive game features Gausman and Hicks, teammates in Toronto for the final two months of the 2023 season. Gausman left the Giants for the Blue Jays as a free agent after the 2021 campaign, and Hicks was picked up by Toronto in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals at last year’s in-season trade deadline.

Gausman (6-8, 4.64 ERA) signed with the Giants as a free agent before the 2020 season and pitched two years in San Francisco, going 17-9 with a 3.00 ERA. He was a National League All-Star in 2021, a season in which he went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA and tied for the major league lead in starts with 33.

The two-time All-Star admitted over the weekend that he recently returned to something he did in his pitch delivery during his successful days as a Giant.

“It’s something we’re trying to get back to what I was doing in 2021,” said Gausman, who owns a 94-99 lifetime record. “I think it will allow me to be around the zone a little bit more.”

The 33-year-old veteran will be pitching in San Francisco for the first time since leaving. He has faced the Giants once since then, in Toronto on June 27, 2023, when he struck out 12 and allowed just one run on three hits over six innings in a 3-0 loss. Patrick Bailey’s double delivered the only run against him.

Gausman matched his season high with 10 strikeouts in a 2-1 loss at Seattle in his most recent start on Friday. He allowed both Mariners runs in six innings.

In three career starts vs. San Francisco, Gausman is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA.

Gausman could find himself without two regulars behind him as both shortstop Bo Bichette (sore right calf) and left fielder Daulton Varsho (bruised left knee) had to leave the Wednesday game.

The beneficiary could be Hicks (4-5, 3.47 ERA). He pitched 25 games, all in relief, for the Blue Jays last August and September after the trade from the Cardinals. He went 2-3 with a 2.63 ERA and four saves in those games.

The 27-year-old signed with the Giants in January and hasn’t faced the Blue Jays since heading west. He is 0-2 with a 16.50 ERA in four games (one start) vs. Toronto.

After going 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his first 10 starts this season, Hicks is 0-4 with a 5.02 ERA in his past eight outings. His four losses in the drought have come against the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, St. Louis and the Atlanta Braves in games in which the Giants scored a total of eight runs.

Hicks knows what it will take to get back in the win column: execute better with two outs.

“I’ve given up six runs on two-out rallies,” he said of his past two starts. “I just need to find a way to bear down and get that third out after two quick ones.”

–Field Level Media

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