Finally back for opening day – and in a full house, at that – the upstart Toronto Blue Jays tapped into their potent offense for the biggest season-opening comeback in more than seven decades.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. doubled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the Blue Jays erased a seven-run deficit to beat the Texas Rangers 10-8 Friday night.
“We never panic,” Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernández said. “We know what we’re capable of and we trust in each other.”
For the first time since the pandemic, a capacity crowd of 45,022 packed in to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Jays in Toronto. They erupted when a video review ruled Hernández beat catcher Mitch Garver’s tag at the plate on Gurriel’s double, putting Toronto ahead 9-8 after trailing 7-0.
“I felt like I got my feet into the home plate and he tagged me on top but it was really close,” Hernández said. “I couldn’t tell. Luckily I got safe. There’s not a better moment in a game like that. ”
Even though shortstop Corey Seager’s relay throw beat Hernández to the plate, Rangers manager Chris Woodward didn’t fault Garver for not getting the tag down more quickly.
“If he had attacked that ball, it may have been a tough hop to catch, so he secured the baseball first,” Woodward said. “It was an inch, out or safe. I thought he did a pretty good job. ”
The last team to win its first game after trailing by at least seven runs was the 1950 New York Yankees, who trailed 9-0 then beat Boston 15-10 at Fenway Park, per the Elias Sports Bureau. The only other team to overcome a seven-run deficit in its season-opening game was the 1901 Detroit Tigers, who erased a 10-run gap to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 14-13.
Blue Jays right-hander Adam Cimber (1-0) pitched one inning for the win despite allowing Adolis García’s tying home run in the seventh. Yimi Garcia worked the eighth and Jordan Romano finished for his first save.
Gurriel’s winning hit came off Rangers right-hander Dennis Santana (0-1), who allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings.
Hernández hit a tying, three-run home run off right-hander Josh Sborz in the fifth and Danny Jansen gave the Blue Jays some insurance with a solo blast off righty Greg Holland in the eighth.
The Rangers chased right-hander José Berríos in the first, scoring four runs before Toronto’s No. 1 starter could record his second out, then added two more runs in the second against left-hander Tayler Saucedo on Garver’s two-run homer.
Berríos retired just one of the seven batters he faced, allowing four runs and three hits, including Brad Miller’s leadoff homer. Berríos walked two and struck out none. He threw 34 pitches, 18 strikes, in the shortest outing of his career.
“I was trying to be too perfect, like too nasty, and I didn’t throw the ball over the plate,” Berríos said.
Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single off Trent Thornton in the fourth gave Texas a 7-0 lead. Toronto scored three runs off right-hander Jon Gray in the fourth and tied it on Hernandez’s two-out homer.
Making his Rangers debut after seven seasons with Colorado, Gray allowed three runs, all earned, in four innings before leaving after a blister on his middle finger cracked open.
“I kind of blame myself for not covering it up or doing something with it,” Gray said. “I understand. I don’t want it to get worse. I’d hate to miss the next start. I totally understand coming out there. ”
Santiago Espinal gave Toronto an 8-7 lead with an RBI double off Sborz in the sixth.
Before the game, former Blue Jays infielder and current Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien and Guerrero and Hernández were presented with their 2021 Silver Slugger Awards. Semien also got his Gold Glove, while Guerrero received his Hank Aaron Award from Billye Aaron, the late Hall of Fame slugger’s widow.
OPEN AND SHUT
Texas has lost eight of its past 10 opening day games and 17 of 25.
Rangers: RHP Garrett Richards began the season on the 10-day injured list because of a blister on his right middle finger. RHP Jonathan Hernandez (elbow surgery) and RHP José Leclerc (elbow surgery) are on the 60-day IL.
Blue Jays: Toronto has two players on the 10-day injured list to begin the season. LHP Ryan Borucki is out with a strained right hamstring, while RHP Nate Pearson is sidelined with mononucleosis.
Blue Jays RHP Kevin Gausman (14-6, 2.81 with San Francisco in 2021) makes his Toronto debut Saturday against Rangers RHP Dane Dunning (5-10, 4.51 in 2021). Gausman last faced the Rangers in 2017.