Opening day 2021 has arrived. After a busy off-season that saw the Blue Jays land George Springer (will miss at least the 1st week with a grade 2 oblique strain), Kirby Yates (undergoing TJ surgery so will not pitch in 2021, Tyler Chatwood, Tommy Milone, Tyler White and brought back AJ Cole, Robbie Ray and David Phelps. Gone are Taijuan Walker (NY Met), Stephen Matz (trade with NY Mets that sent Sean Reid-Foley and Yennsy Diaz the other way, Jonathan Villar (NY Met), Matt Shoemaker (Minnesota Twin), Ken Giles (Seattle Mariner, but not pitching due to September 2020 TJ surgery), Anthony Bass (Miami Marlin), Travis Shaw (Milwaukee Brewer), Chase Anderson (Philadelphia Phillie), Shun Yamaguchi (SF Giant), and Caleb Joseph (NY Met). The signing of Semien means Cavan Biggio will slide over to the hot corner. Vlad will also likely see playing time there and at first base and DH (hopefully most in the field).The big success story of spring training was lefty Tim Mayza, who missed 2 seasons with TJ surgery complicated by other torn ligaments, making the team Today, the Blue Jays faced the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays and Yankees split the 10 games last season with the Yankees outscoring the Blue Jays 77-61. Could the Blue Jays start the 2021 season with a win? Here is today's game recap.
- The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the top of the 2nd as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled home Teoscar Hernandez
- The Yankees took the lead in the bottom half of the inning as Gary Sanchez whacked a 2-run shot to left also scoring Gleyber Torres
- The Blue Jays tied the game in the top of the 6th as Hernandez hammered a solo bomb to left
- Gerrit Cole pitching line: 5.1IP 5H 2R (both earned) 2BB 8K 97 pitches (62 for strikes)
- Hyun-Jin Ryu pitching line: 5.1IP 4H 2R (both earned) 1BB 5K 92 pitches (53 for strikes)
- The Blue Jays took the lead in the top of the 10th as Randal Grichuk doubled home Jonathan Davis
- Julian Merriweather struck out the side for his first career save
- Final score: Blue Jays 3 Yankees 2
- Hyun-Jin Ryu pick up where he left off in 2021, throwing 5.1 effective innings, allowing a pair of runs on 4 hits while walking 1 and striking out 5. Last season, he was the Blue Jays most consistent pitcher and showed why he was given $20 mil over 4 seasons. He was the only pitcher last season to throw over 100 pitches and one of two pitchers to pitch into the 7th inning. Last season was an odd year in so many ways (spring training was interrupted March 17 and then teams were given three weeks to ramp things up for a late June start in a 60 game sprint). The starting pitchers were especially effected as they typically take a month+ long spring training to get to their expected season load of 100 pitches). This time around, we had a normal spring training and will be playing a typical 162 game schedule. I know that the trend is to have bigger bullpens and starting pitchers pitching maybe into the 6th inning. However, you still need one or two starters to pitch into the 7th inning
- Another big change is there are fans in the stands. Last season, only the world series and a couple of regular season games had limited fans (though one fan did break into Fenway park before getting kicked out by security). I have to say it's refreshing to hear genuine crowd noise and see actual fans as opposed to those cardboard cutouts that just aren't the same. The NHL has opted to put big taros over the seats in stadiums where fans are still banned
- A couple of rules returned from last season: seven inning double headers and runner starting on second in extra innings. Last season was a struggle with the Blue Jays on the losing end of the coin in 6 of the 11 games that went into extra innings. A major factor was not having a strong back end of the bullpen and defensive miscues. Today, Randal Grichuk led off the inning by doubling home pinch runner Jonathan Davis. Danny Jansen then struck out bunting with two strikes. Yes, I will admit that bunting with 2 strikes was a poor call, but bunting over Grichuk with less than two strikes was not. Here's why: If Jansen was successful with the bunt, Grichuk would have been on 3rd base with 2 opportunities to drive him home and the top of the order up.
- Once again, the Blue Jays will be mixing and matching when trying to close out a game. After losing Ken Giles to the Mariners (who won't pitch in 2021 anyway after TJ surgery last September), the Blue Jays inked Kirby Yates, only to find out he needed TJ surgery, wiping out his 2021 season. There are several pitchers who could be candidates to pitch in the 9th (Merriweather, Rafael Dolis, Jordan Romano and Tim Mayza or Ryan Borucki if the situation calls for a lefty). Merriweather struck out the side on 11 pitches today.
- Cavan Biggio, learning to play the hot corner after spending his career as a second baseman, made a huge play in the top of the 9th to gun down Mike Tauchhman at the plate. Jordan Romano then struck out Aaron Judge to send the game to extra innings
- Teoscar Herndandez had a huge day at the plate, going 3-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI
- Marcus Semien was 0-5 in the leadoff spot, including a strikeout in the 10th that could have given the Blue Jays a 2-run cushion. With George Springer missing the first week, Semien, Biggio or Bo Bichette will likely be tapped to bat in the leadoff spot,
- Up next, after an off-day tomorrow, the Blue Jays and Yankees continue the season-opening series. Ross Stripling gets the start against Yankees righty Corey Kluber. Stripling, acquired at the trade deadline last season, was 0-5 with a 6.32ERA in 5 starts for the Blue Jays last season. Kluber missed all but an inning last season with an injury. Only Semien has faced Kluber before and he's 0-9. It will be interesting to see how aggressive or patient Blue Jays hitters are vs. the veteran righty.