Toronto – For a while, the Toronto Blue Jays were on their way to a near-perfect weekend. When they took a 6-1 lead in the fourth inning, they looked ready to sweep over the Rangers for the first time since 1996 and start the season 3-0.
But after three effective innings, Hyun-Jin Ryu fought in the fourth, allowing four consecutive injuries, the last of which knocked him off his feet and chased him out of the game. By the end of the innings, six Rangers had scored and Texas was ahead, 7-6. A strong bullpen effort at that moment could have put the game off, but the Blue Jays relivers allowed five more runs in a 12-6 loss, the team’s first of the season.
All told, Ryu was charged for six earned runs in five hits in 3.1 innings – a disappointing debut for a skilled pitcher who struggled to expand in 2021. His fastball averaged 90.1 miles per hour, a slight increase over last year, but the Rangers hitter had no problem squaring his off-speed pitches, hitting four balls at least 100 miles per hour in the fourth inning alone.
On Friday, a strong Bullpen effort helped the Blue Jess out a fair start from Jose Berrios, but Toronto reliever battled with Julian Marioweider, Ross Strippling, David Phelps and Taylor Sosedo on Sunday. If a silver lining is found in the one-sided loss, it is Jordan Romano and Emmy Garcia who took leave after pitching in a drawn game.
In different situations, the story of the game could be Matt Chapman, who made multiple powerful dramas in defense as well as hitting his first home run as a Blue J. In fact, there was an innings for Chapman to make an impact in the game.
On top of the first, Marcus Semien led with a ground ball between the third and short. Chapman swings to his left, slams and throws the target at the first base for many third basemen that cannot be recorded. Just minutes later, Chapman also announced his offensive presence. With two runners on and two outs under the first one, he set foot on a fastball with a speed of 97 miles per hour and sent it to the center field at 432 feet for his first injury as a Blue J, a three-run home run.
With these two dramas, Blue Jays witnessed the full potential of Chapman, who has been under contract with Blue Jays for two seasons. A three-time Gold Glove winner, he brings elite defensive skills to a position that attracts lots of ground ball – especially when Rue is pitching. And although his offensive numbers have dwindled in the last year, he is expected to continue to tap into the power that allowed him to hit 36 home runs once in Oakland.
Four Blue Jays Sunday Homed, including Chapman. George Springer led the game with a single shot, Danny Janssen hit his second of the season in the second inning and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a career-high 467-feet in the third inning. The Blue Jays have now scored seven home runs and 20 runs in three games. As expected, this team could clash with anyone.
Before the game, Blue Jess officially promoted fast outfielder Bradley Zimmer while utility player Gosuke replaced Katoh with Triple-A to make room on the roster. After a weekend where the Blue Jays used their bullpen extensively, more rosters may need to be run by Monday.
From here, the Blue Jays fly to New York, where they will play four games against the Yankees. This will be a significant test – and to pass it will require more consistent starting pitching than they have achieved so far.