Instant Reaction: Five-run first inning powers Blue Jays to win in Yariel Rodríguez’s debut

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
14 days ago
After an ugly loss in the series opener on Friday, the Blue Jays evened things up with a 5-3 win over the visiting Colorado Rockies on Saturday.
The bats got things going immediately in the first inning. George Springer led off with a single, Bo Bichette reached with a single of his own, and Daniel Vogelbach walked to load the bases. With two outs, Davis Schneider came up to the plate and drew a walk to open the scoring. Next up, Daulton Varsho hit a grand slam to give the Blue Jays an early 5-0 lead.
This game featured the highly anticipated debut of right-handed pitcher Yariel Rodríguez, who the Blue Jays signed to a five-year, $32 million contract in the off-season. Rodríguez came along slowly in Spring Training and had two dominant appearances with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons before being recalled to Toronto. With the Bisons, Rodríguez threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out 10 batters.
Rodríguez had a quick three-up, three-down inning in the first inning and was able to settle in quickly with that early 5-0 lead. He worked around a double in the second for another scoreless frame but then allowed a solo home run to Brenton Doyle to lead off the third. The righty made it through the rest of the inning unscathed and got two more outs in the fourth before handing the ball off to Bowden Francis.
All told, Rodríguez went 3 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run on four hits and two walks while picking up six strikeouts. His fastball had life on it and his slider looked nasty. You can definitely see the upside here.
Francis finished off the fourth inning and then cruised through the fifth before running into some trouble in the sixth. He walked Elias Diaz to start the inning, Nolan Jones hit a double into left field, and Brendan Rodgers scored both runners with a single. Francis allowed another single but got out of the inning thanks to a double play.
Between Rodríguez and Francis, the Blue Jays got a quality start, as the two pitchers combined to allow three runs over six innings.
After the piggyback start, the Blue Jays got three innings of excellent pitching from their bullpen. Tim Mayza pitched a clean seventh inning, Chad Green breezed through the eighth, and Yimi García struck out the side in the ninth. García took just 12 pitches to plow through the Rockies to secure his first save of the season.
The Blue Jays and Rockies will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday afternoon. José Berríos will go for the Blue Jays while Kyle Freeland will start for the Rockies. Berríos has an impressive 1.45 ERA through his first three starts and Freeland has struggled to a 16.03 ERA across three starts of his own.

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