Welcome to the first of 162 Toronto Blue Jays recaps here on Complex Canada.
That’s right – for every Toronto Blue Jays game this season, you’re going to be able to drop in here and get a quick recap and witty analysis of the game that was and what it all means in the grand scheme of things.
Sunday was Opening Day in Major League Baseball and the defending American League East Champions (that has a nice ring to it) got their season started in Tampa, Florida opposite the Rays at The Trop, which is still the worst ballpark in The Bigs, by far.
While the Jays pushed across enough runs to ultimately get the win in the first inning when they got to Tampa starter Chris Archer for two in their first round of at-bats this season, the real story of the game was starter Marcus Stroman.
The third-youngest Opening Day starter in Blue Jays’ history (behind Todd Stottlemyre and Drew Hutchison) showed why he was tabbed for the first start of the season and the top of the rotation, hurling an economical eight innings before getting touched up for a pair of runs in the ninth; one on a Corey Dickerson home run, the other when Desmond Jennings scored on a single over the infield by Kevin Keirmaier off closer Roberto Osuna.
Even with the late fade, Stroman’s line is strong – 8IP, 6 hits, 3 earned runs and 5 strikeouts on 98 pitches – doing exactly what you want the man at the front of the rotation to do – carry the club into the late innings with a lead and give them a chance to win. And win they did.
Toronto got its offense from the top half of the order, as the 1-5 hitters in the line-up – Kevin Pillar, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki – accounted for all seven the team’s hits, with Pillar and Encarnacion getting two apiece and Tulowitzki going yard in the 8th to extend the lead to 5-1, which turned out to be more important that it seemed in the moment.
It’s always important to not overreact to anything that happens on Opening Day – the Jays aren’t going to go 162-0, Tulo won’t hit 162 home runs and drive in 374 and Pillar won’t become the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400 on the season – but it’s a good start to the season and games like this one are going to be the difference between Toronto being in the playoff chase or watching it pass them by this season.
Tampa Bay has always played Toronto close and they’ve rallied in late-inning situations against the Jays numerous times in the past. While it got a little dicey in the bottom of the ninth, closer Roberto Osuna got the job done and got his first save of the season, locking up Toronto’s first win of the 2016 campaign.
On Deck: Game 2 of this season-opening four-game set goes this afternoon with veteran R.A. Dickey taking on lefty Drew Smyly.