Tonight’s game officially confirmed that playing at the Trop significantly affects the way the Toronto Blue Jays swing the bat.
Despite a slow start, the Blue Jays elevated almost all of Minnesota’s relievers’ ERAs tonight in a 9-3 rout of the Twins to kick off a four game set. Toronto had 13 hits tonight, one more hit than they had total in their last series against Tampa Bay. Alek Manoah got his 17th quality start of the season, putting the cherry on top of a very enjoyable win for Blue Jays fans.
Sonny Gray got the start for Minnesota, and, although his numbers were very good, those who watched the game could see that Gray did whatever he could to throw pitches on the outside parts of the zone. Gray finished the night with five walks in five innings. 46 of his 96 pitches were balls. He did paint some corners nicely, but it was frustrating watching the Jays only tally one hit off of him due to Gray throwing several borderline pitches.
However, in the 6th inning, with Gray out of the game, the Jays were able to find some hits. With one out, Teoscar Hernandez hit an absolute moonshot to left field. The ball was hit so high that the Sportsnet cameras couldn’t track where the ball absolutely landed. Viewers were led to believe that the ball was hit into the first row of seats in left field, but in reality, the ball landed 409 feet into the second deck.
Bo Bichette followed the home run with a double, and he was cashed in by the steaming hot Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The exact same Bichette-Gurriel combo occurred in the 8th, as Gurriel singled in Bichette, who hit a leadoff double off of Trevor Megill. It was encouraging to see Hernandez and Bichette thrive, as the two were flipped in the batting order for tonight’s game.
The 8th inning momentum continued as George Springer singled in two runs with the bases loaded. It was huge sigh of relief for Jays fans watching Springer contribute despite missing a couple games resting his elbow. The dagger was put in the Twins one batter later, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smoked a 3-run homer off of Tyler Duffey. Vladdy’s home run was 115 mph off the bat, and it only took 3.8 seconds before it landed in the seats.
Now for The Big Man. Manoah was cruising through the Twins order to start the game; he retired the first 10 batters he faced. However, in the 4th inning, Carlos Correa smoked a ball right back to Manoah, hitting him on the right arm. Manoah immediately shook off the Jays’ training staff, and stayed in the game. He retired Byron Buxton on a groundout, but then he went walk-walk-HBP to give up a run. Manoah gave up another run in the 6th, but regardless, he did what he always does, and gave his team a chance to win. Manoah threw a total of 6 innings, allowing two hits, two runs, four walks and five strikeouts. For the love of God, can Alek Manoah please stop getting hit with comebackers?
Newly acquired Whit Merrifield was batting 8th for the Blue Jays tonight. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI. With Gurriel on third in the 6th inning, Merrifield hit a sharp ground ball to Twins 3B Jose Miranda. Merrifield’s speed forced a quick and errant throw by Miranda, and 1B Luis Arraez couldn’t hang onto the ball. Merrifield was safe, and Gurriel scored. Anthony Bass gave up a solo home run to Jake Cave in the 9th inning in his first appearance with the Jays this season. That home run was only the second that Bass has given up this season.
The Blue Jays will look to duplicate this offensive onslaught tomorrow, as Jose Berrios will face newly-acquired Tyler Mahle. Toronto will also look to play spoiler, as the Twins are only one game ahead of the Guardians in the AL Central.