TORONTO – Shortly after receiving the news that they will be spending the final two months of their season at home in Toronto, the Toronto Blue Jays put together the kind of offensive outburst that shows how exciting the home stretch will be when this lineup is in full swing. .
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reached the 30-home run threshold by hitting two of the Blue Jays ‘five home runs as Toronto beat the visiting Texas Rangers 10-2 on a rainy night at the second of three Blue Jays’ venues in 2021., Buffalo Sahlen Field.
With Robbie Ray on the mound, the Blue Jays started the unofficial second half of the season with their most effective pitcher in recent memory, and by activating Ryan Borucki before the first pitch, the bullpen also received welcome support. Of course, on a night when the open field was running at full force, there was plenty of room to breathe.
And the best news of all came just before the first release.
“You should have seen everyone’s faces when we first found out,” manager Charlie Montoyo said later. “Although Buffalo has been great, Toronto is one of the best cities in baseball without a doubt.”
“It was great news,” Montoyo continued. “Some of the best news of the year. And we incorporate it into the game. “
The season Guerrero Jr. is having would be remarkable at any age, but what he’s up to (30 homers with a .335 / .434 / .677 line) really needs to be appreciated in the context of his age. At 22, he is still the sixth youngest player in the American League.
“It was only a matter of time before he started doing this at the Major League level,” Cavan Biggio said. “He went through a great learning experience in the big leagues, where most of the guys fight in the minor leagues, they learn a lot about themselves and they learn how to make adjustments. He was doing it on the bigger stage. “
After starting his career with two productive but relatively unremarkable seasons, Guerrero Jr. falls apart at age 22, so young that when he homered in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, he became the youngest player to do so since Johnny Bench. more than half a century ago. In fact, he’s still under the four players the Blue Jays selected last week.
Yet here he is, making a legitimate run for the AL triple crown. That might be what it takes to be a serious MVP for a year that Shohei Ohtani is making a compelling impression of Babe Ruth in his prime, but so far Guerrero Jr. has lived up to the challenge. Nights like this, the talent is impossible to miss.
“He’s one of the best players in baseball,” Montoyo said. “He showed it at the All-Star Game and he’s showing it again today. He didn’t really have a break. He flew to Colorado, did everything he had to do, and then left again today. It was fun to watch. And that’s what I like about going back to Toronto now – Toronto fans can see one of the best players in baseball and of course the rest of the group, but Vladdy has been amazing. “
At the plate, Guerrero Jr. had plenty of support as Marcus Semien, Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez also hit home runs on Friday. For the moment, at least, the five home runs give the Blue Jays a leading 135 in the major league season.
But even on a night when the offense was at its best, the pitching staff did their part, too. Pitching on a regular break, Ray gave the Blue Jays 6.2 scoreless innings while striking out eight and walking just two. Because the Blue Jays’ last game started before the All-Star break, it marked back-to-back games that started for Ray, whose season ERA is now 2.93.
“I asked for it,” Ray said afterward. “I told them ‘I’ll pitch whenever they want, but I like to stick to the five-day routine … It felt really good.”
After Adam Cimber recorded the final out of the seventh inning, Borucki entered for an eighth clean with two strikeouts and Jacob Barnes allowed the Rangers’ only two runs in the ninth.
“Waking up and knowing that I was going to be able to pitch in a major league baseball game was fun,” Borucki said. “Just being there in the bullpen with these guys, it was great to be back.”
Bench coach John Schneider, who pulled the strings for those finishing moves, took over after manager Charlie Montoyo was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Greg Gibson about the timing of a replay review challenge.
With the win, the Blue Jays improve to 46-42 on the season, a small but important step for a team that must make up a lot more ground in the standings in the coming weeks. In the meantime, a return to Toronto will undoubtedly provide welcome comfort and support for a team that last played at the Rogers Center nearly two years ago.
There is a lot of work to be done before the Blue Jays come home, both in regards to the roster in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline and the sheer amount of logistics involved for players, staff and their families. But with Guerrero Jr. leading a powerful offense, it’s easy to see the potential of this team, too.