The final weekend of Spring Training baseball is finally here. With that being said, the Toronto Blue Jays were in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates for a two-game series in Montreal.
The night started off with a special ceremony to former Expo Tim Raines. Raines finally got the call to Cooperstown earlier this year, as his wife and kids, some of his former teammates, along with Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, were all in attendance to honour Raines.
Raines gave a heartwarming speech to the crowd while he received a few gifts as well. The three-time World Series champion received commemorative baseball bats, a painting of the skyline of Montreal, and a base that had the number 808 on it – for how many bases he stole in his career.
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The game got underway as soon as the ceremony and the singing of both national anthems were presented. The Blue Jays are slightly short-handed, as they’re without Jose Bautista and Devon Travis this weekend. Bautista is attending his brother’s wedding this weekend, while the Blue Jays are keeping Travis off the turf to stay healthy and rested for Opening Day.
Marcus Stroman would make the start for the Blue Jays. It was his only his third start in Spring Training as this was his first start since his epic MVP performance in the World Baseball Classic finals. Jameson Taillon would get the start for the Pirates.
It was a quiet start to the game until Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin received a standing ovation from his hometown crowd when he walked up to the plate in the bottom of the first.
The groundball would work in Stroman’s favour as he cruised though the first two innings of the game. However, he gave up three singles in the third and he made sure that the runners on the corners would not score. The troubling half of the inning would help the Blue Jays rebound in the bottom of the third. Second baseman Darwin Barney hit a triple as he would score on a groundout from Kevin Pillar to put the Blue Jays up 1-0.
Stroman pitched through 4 innings as he allowed 0 runs, on 5 hits with 2 strikeouts on the night. The fifth inning was when Joe Biagini would come in to relieve Stroman. This would be the first of many changes that the Blue Jays made in the game. Justin Smoak would be taken out of the game, Steve Pearce moved from left field to first, and Melvin Upton Jr. would take over the left field position.
Biagini would run into problems when the Pirates tied it up on Adam Frazier’s RBI triple that went high off the right field wall to Ezequiel Carrera. Frazier tried to stretch it into a inside-the-park home run until he was tagged out at home by Martin.
After Biagini, Aaron Loup would pitch in the sixth inning and Ryan Tepera would pitch in the seventh. Tepera would eventually be pulled for lefty J.P. Howell. That was not the only substitution made in the inning as Josh Donaldson , Russell Martin, and Troy Tulowitzki were taken out for Shane Optiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Gregorio Petit.
Closer Roberto Osuna pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the ninth. The Blue Jays would continue to change things up with hopes of getting the winning run across home plate. They turned to Mike Ohlman who would come into pinch hit and grounded out to first.
Jake Elmore would also come into pinch hit after Ohlman. Elmore should off his hitting and speed with a double. Unfortunately, Upton Jr. could not bring in the scoring run as he grounded out to first for the final out of the game.
The game would finish with a 1-1 tie as a result. Toronto will wrap their Spring Training action tomorrow afternoon at 1:07 PM back at the Big O in Montreal. The Blue Jays will have the day off Sunday before fans eagerly await for them to take on the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Monday.