When the Blue Jays needed a RISP hero tonight, it was Danny Jansen who was up to the task.
Jansen’s RBI single in the ninth inning served as the game-winning hit, as the Blue Jays dodged a late rally from the Rangers and took the series opener 4-3.
Toronto led for most of the game, but their inability to deliver with runners in scoring position through the late innings allowed Texas to eventually tie the game. The Blue Jays stranded the bases loaded in the 6th and also a one-out triple by Bo Bichette in the 8th. Nonetheless, the Blue Jays were able to rebound, and it was bottom-of-the-order bats who got the job done.
After the Rangers tied the game at 3 in the 8th, Raimel Tapia led off the 9th with a walk. He stole second, and then advanced to third on a deep flyout from Santiago Espinal. With a hope of literally just a sac fly or a slow grounder to score the run, Jansen lifted a slider from Jose Leclerc into left field to give the Blue Jays the lead.
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The Rangers rally overshadowed another great offensive outing from Bo Bichette. He scored George Springer on an RBI fielder’s choice in the first inning, which is the first time the Blue Jays have scored in the opening inning since August 25th in Boston.
Bichette hit his 23rd home run of the season off a slider from Dane Dunning in the third inning, as he hit it to where he hits really well in right field. It was his fifth home run in his last four games, proving his ability to carry the offense on his back if need be. Bo also added the aforementioned triple in the 8th inning, upping his average to .276, only one point behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (a gauge for how hot Bichette has been).
Ross Stripling tossed his fifth consecutive quality start, going six innings, allowing three hits, two runs, no walks and four strikeouts. Stripling retired 17 of the first 18 batters he faced, and he did it in a very efficient manner, throwing 50 pitches through five innings. The only mistake he made through those first 18 batters was allowing a solo home run to Jace Jung in his first at-bat in the big leagues. Our congrats go out to Jung, but someone should seriously let him know that the Rangers blew a 2-0 series lead in the 2015 ALDS.
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With two outs in the sixth inning, the half-billion dollar middle infield of the Rangers strung some hits together off of Stripling. Our old friend Marcus Semien doubled down the right field line, and Corey Seager singled him home to make the score 3-2. Stripling finished the inning strong by retiring Nathaniel Lowe, another one of the Rangers big bats.
To point out more individual performances, Jordan Romano continued to dominate his save opportunities, earning his 32nd save of the season. Vladdy also had a 2-for-4 night, an encouraging stat line for a recently struggling hitter.
Game 2 is set for tomorrow evening at 7:05 ET, with Kevin Gausman lined up against Kohei Arihara. It’s a favorable matchup for the Jays, as Arihara has a 5.29 ERA compared to Gausman’s 3.12.
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