Kikuchi (2-1) earned the win Monday after pitching six scoreless innings against the Mariners, giving up one hit and three walks while striking out six. The 30-year-old was masterful Monday, limiting the Mariners to just four baserunners over six frames while registering his second win and second quality start of the year. Over his last three starts, Kikuchi has posted a 1.56 ERA and 0.75 WHIP with 20 punchouts over 17.1 innings. On the season, the left-hander owns a 3.38 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while allowing a career-low 5.91 H/9 over 32 innings.
Kikuchi didn't factor into the decision in Tuesday's 6-5 loss to the Yankees, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks over 5.1 innings. He struck out seven. The southpaw was headed for his second win of the season until Aaron Judge walked it off with a three-run blast off Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano in the bottom of the ninth inning. Kikuchi appears to have turned a corner, posting a 14:4 K:BB in 11.1 innings over his last two starts with a 2.38 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, but Seattle fans can attest to the rollercoaster ride that the Kikuchi experience can be over a full season.
Kikuchi picked up the win Wednesday against the Yankees, tossing six innings and surrendering one run on three hits and a walk while striking out seven against the Yankees. Kikuchi put together his best outing of the season Wednesday, ultimately ending the Yankees' 11-game win streak. The 30-year-old notched a season-high seven strikeouts on his way to his first quality start and win of the campaign. The only blemish on his line came in the top of the third inning when Joey Gallo took him deep for a solo shot. Kikuchi now owns a 4.35 ERA and 1.55 WHIP while registering 20 strikeouts over 20.2 innings.
Kikuchi scrapped his cutter in Friday's start against the Astros, Mitch Bannon of SI.com reports. He gave up four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out four in 2.2 innings. Manager Charlie Montoyo confirmed that Kikuchi's command just hasn't been right, but acknowledged that it's a tough for him to make adjustments while facing the same opponent (Houston) in back-to-back starts. At this point it's tough to deploy Kikuchi while he is clearly experimenting with different approaches in hopes of solving his strike-throwing issues. He has walked 13 in 14.2 innings this season.
Kikuchi allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits and five walks over 3.2 innings in Sunday's loss to Houston. He struck out four and did not factor in the decision. Kikuchi faced eight batters in the second inning but escaped after allowing just two runs, including a bases-loaded walk to Alex Bregman. He later coughed up a two-run shot to Michael Brantley in the fourth that bounced him from the game. The 30-year-old lefty saw his ERA climb to 3.75 through 12 innings this season. Kikuchi is expected to get a rematch with the Astros at home next week.
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