Takeaways and analysis of the Toronto Blue Jays first spring training game
Blue Jays Regulars put the Pressure on Early
In the first inning, the Toronto Blue Jays were able to load the bases and immediately put pressure on the Yankees. After a Cavan Biggio pop fly, Marcus Semien would put a drop shot into shallow right field that Aaron Judge was unable to corral, with Bo Bichette walking and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. getting hit by a pitch from starting pitcher Michael King to load the bases. Rowdy Tellez would hit a ground-rule double along the right-field line to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
The second inning would see Jonathan Davis get hit by a pitch and steal second base, beating the tag pretty easily. Davis would score from second when Biggio put the ball into the left-center gap for a double, making the game 3-0. Bichette would generate another walk before Gurriel Jr. grounded out to leave two men on base.
Singles from Guerrero Jr. and Tellez led off the third inning before Davis would hit a ball through the left side scoring Guerrero from second to make it a 4-0 game. A Gurriel Jr. single in shallow left field during the fifth would put the Blue Jays up 5-0 heading into the bottom of the inning.
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Overall, the Blue Jays were pretty patient in the box to begin the game, making King throw 40 pitches before getting out of the second inning. Multiple players would generate 2-2 and 3-2 counts, driving up King’s pitch count and putting men on base and balls in play. The Blue Jays had six hits before the fourth inning and Bichette led the team with walks in both of his at-bats.
Pitchers Looking to Crack the Rotation on Display
Anthony Kay would start the game for the Blue Jays, going two innings without surrendering a hit while striking out two. The southpaw would get D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge to ground out with a Gleybar Torres strikeout to end the inning. He would follow a solid first inning by striking out Gary Sanchez and getting both Luke Voit and Clint Frazier to pop out to end the second. A solid outing from Kay as he is looking to secure a spot at the back end of the Blue Jays rotation. His stuff looked very sharp and he was in full command of his pitches, appearing dialed in against a powerful Yankees lineup.
T.J. Zeuch would follow behind Kay, putting together a clean 3rd inning by getting two ground outs and a pop-out against the bottom of the Yankees batting order. He would begin the fourth inning against the Yankees top of the order, giving up two hits and one run. Overall, Zeuch had a good outing even though he didn’t record a strikeout. While a long shot to make the Blue Jays rotation, he starts his spring on a high note after allowing only one run over two innings against the 1-2-3 hitters in the Yankees batting order. He earns the first win of the Blue Jays spring training.
The third pitcher for the Blue Jays would be Jacob Waguespack, another pitcher looking to find a spot in the major leagues this season. He began the fifth inning with a base hit from Miguel Andujar before surrendering back-to-back home runs to catcher Rob Brantly and first baseman Mike Tauchman before recording a single out in the frame. He would get a fly ball out before being replaced, pitching just 0.1 innings.
Surrendering three runs and giving up two home runs is not the most ideal way to start your spring, but Waguespack has some time to turn things around before the end of the month. He was on the outside looking in when it came to the Blue Jays rotation and he will need to pitch some quality innings this spring if he wants to be on the MLB roster come April.
Other pitchers to take the mound were Anthony Castro, Joey Murray, and Bryan Baker, all of whom did not allow a hit while striking out four batters. Baker earns the save.
Looking into the Defensive Alignment
Guerrero Jr. came into spring training hoping to re-earn his spot across the diamond at third base but the hard-hitting right-hander would instead be tasked with first base in the first spring training game. Utility man Cavan Biggio would be used at third base and made a very nice play down the third-base line to get the out at first. It will be interesting to see if the Blue Jays choose to use Biggio at third all season, as the team no longer has Travis Shaw or Brandon Drury on the roster and potential replacement prospects Jordan Groshans and Austin Martin will most likely not be MLB ready this season. Groshans did appear in the game but was used at shortstop with prospect Kevin Smith being used at the hot corner as a replacement for Biggio.
Up the middle was Bichette at shortstop and Semien at second, a tandem that fans should expect to see all year round. Both players had ground balls hit to them and handled them well with no issues.
Gurriel Jr. (left field) was the only starting outfielder to suit up with bench options Josh Palacios (right field) and Jonathan Davis (center field) starting alongside him in the outfield.
Prospects getting into the game
The prospects to make their spring debuts for the year are:
4th inning: Forrest Wall, Chavez Young, Kevin Smith, Logan Warmoth
5th inning: Riley Adams, Anthony Castro (P)
6th inning: Joey Murray (P)
7th inning: Bryan Baker (P)
Jordan Groshans would be the first prospect to make his debut in the batter’s box this spring, being subbed in the fourth inning and going 0-2 with a strikeout on the day. He currently ranks as the Toronto Blue Jays third top prospect.
Otto Lopez (#13th ranked Blue Jays prospect) would pinch run for Semien in the fourth, stealing second base and taking third on a passed ball before a Gurriel Jr. single brought him home (5-0). He would go 0-1 with a strikeout on the day, picking up a defensive error while playing second base.
Right fielder Logan Warmoth would belt the only Blue Jays home run into the right-field stands in the seventh inning, the first one of the spring for the organization.
Combined, the Blue Jays prospects would have an alright day at the plate, striking out four times with only three hits and one run scored in ten at-bats. The hits were limited to only Forrest Wall and Warmoth (2), while Groshans, Lopez, Kevin Smith, and Chavez Young all had one strikeout.
Pitching-wise, Anthony Castro made his spring debut as a replacement for Waguespack midway through the fifth inning. The right-hander would get a strikeout against former Blue Jay Socrates Brito and a pop out to the end of the inning. Joey Murray and Bryan Baker would follow for the sixth and seventh innings and would each pitch a scoreless frame, earning one and two strikeouts respectively against the New York Yankees replacement players.
While the team wasn’t facing Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon, the Blue Jays batters were patient in the box and were able to work the count in their favour, putting up at least one run in the first four innings before the replacements came in. The prospects did have a tough time at the plate but did have to face major league veterans like Kyle Barraclough and Adam Warren, which is good experience to have under your belt before the MiLB season begins.
On the mound, everybody but Jacob Waguespack had a pretty solid outing. The Blue Jays pitchers didn’t give up a single walk while not allowing a run until the fourth inning, facing big names in the Yankees lineup like LeMahieu, Voit, and Judge. With Kay and Zeuch looking to pencil their name into the Blue Jays active roster this season, a strong outing in the first spring game of the year was a good way to begin what looks to be a very competitive spring for the Jays pitching corps.
The Blue Jays get their first spring training win in the books and will hopefully look to extend the winning streak tomorrow when they face the Pittsburgh Pirates back home in Dunedin.
- Breyvic Valera returns to the Blue Jays lineup after not playing last season. He spent last year on the restricted list as he had difficulty leaving Venezuela
- Blue Jays pitchers kept the Yankees out of the hit column until the 4th inning
- Outfielders George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez did not take part in the game
- Tyler White made his first appearance with the Blue Jays as he was signed to a minor league contract this off-season. He went 0-1 with a strikeout.
- Prospect Austin Martin was suited up for the game but was left on the bench
- Blue Jays had three steals on the day (Jonathan Davis, Forrest Wall, and Otto Lopez)
- Home Runs: Warmoth (1)
- Save: Baker (1)
Monday, March 1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Dunedin. The game starts at 1:07 pm.