3 biggest takeaways from the Blue Jays Opening Day victory over the Cardinals
By Eric Treuden
Holy cow, what a game that was! In dramatic fashion, the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 10-9 on Opening Day.
The game was back and forth; it seemed like every single time one team scored, the other followed it with two more runs. The Jays' offense wss firing on every cylinder, while the pitching staff faltered big time.
All told, the two offensive juggernauts combined for 19 runs on 35 hits. Alek Manoah took the mound for the Blue Jays and did not look himself; allowing five earned runs on nine base hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He went 3.1 innings, marking just the fifth time (in 52 starts) that he failed to make it through five innings.
Miles Mikolas didn't fare any better for the Cardinals. The recently-extended hurler also went 3.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on 10 base hits with six strikeouts.
Now that that whirlwind of emotions is behind us, let's take a look at the 3 biggest takeaways from the Blue Jays' Opening Day victory.
The top of the order is going to be lethal this season
Man, oh man, this was exciting to see. George Springer, one of the best leadoff men not only in Blue Jays history, but MLB history as a whole, went five-for-six with five bloop singles and four runs scored. He played scrappy ball and got on base by any means necessary.
Bo Bichette, who batted second, did just as well, going four-for-six with two runs scored and a double. He made a boneheaded error at shortstop, seemingly picking up where he left off last year, but let's just hope that was a one-off.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and newcomer Daulton Varsho, who batted third and fourth, did exactly what they were supposed to do: move baserunners up and drive in runs. Guerrero went two-for-four with three RBI and Varsho notched the first hit, run scored and RBI in a Blue Jays uniform.
The bullpen is going to be a sore spot this year
As strong as the offense looked, the bullpen looked just as rough. Zach Pop and Erik Swanson relieved Manoah early on and did well at limiting baserunners, holding the Cardinals scoreless over a combined 2.1 innings of work.
Tim Mayza and Anthony Bass followed, with the former allowing three hits and an earned run without getting a single out and the latter walking a batter and surrendering an earned run of his own.
Adam Cimber came on next and while he did walk a batter, he held the Cardinals scoreless over an inning of work. Yimi García came in for the eighth inning and promptly walked two batters, allowed two base hits and surrendered two earned runs.
In a game that saw John Schneider immediately exhaust the bullpen arms (thank goodness Friday is an off day), Jordan Romano came in and slammed the door, punching out two batters and earning his first save of the year.
Aggressiveness on the bases is a legit area of improvement for the Jays
So frequently did we see runners on first base go from first to third on bloop singles, the best example of this being when Kevin Kiermaier pulled a fast one on Cardinals shortstop Tommy Edman.
Guerrero hit a short single of his own at some point in the middle of the game and was able to advance to second base on a throw to third by Cardinals prospect Jordan Walker, who was in right field. Vladdy just barely beat out the throw, but his aggressiveness paid off nicely.
Newcomer Brandon Belt was also able to stretch what should've been a single into a double as well off of Cardinals reliever Andre Pallante. Belt looked lost at the plate in his first two at-bats (both ended in strikeouts), but notched his first hit in a Blue Jays uniform.
Schneider promised in Spring Training that the Blue Jays would steal more bases and aim to be more aggressive on the bases moving forward. This was on full display in spring, resulting in a ton of failed stolen base attempts, but Schneider vowed to have the club make smarter choices during the regular season and it paid off in the first game.