Blue Jays: Three standout performances from Opening Day
By Evan Gignac
What a rush.
After the second ridiculous Opening Day in a row, the Blue Jays are on pace for 162 wins. A 10-9 final against the Cardinals featured an eventful afternoon for many members of the Blue Jays roster.
There were a handful of performances that players are looking forward to putting behind them as the season moves forward. A shaky start from Alek Manoah, half of the bullpen being ineffective late in the game, and Bo Bichette committing an error on his first fielding opportunity of the season, are all performances players will look to move on from.
But the Jays won, there had to be some good showings yesterday afternoon, no? That’s absolutely correct, and there were definitely more positives to sort through than negatives. Here are the three players who stood out from the others yesterday afternoon.
A five hit day with a good catch mixed in, how could we not include Springer? The newly cemented right fielder had a game to remember yesterday afternoon. His five hits setting the franchise record for most hits on an Opening Day, all while coming in to score four separate times and driving in a run himself.
Springer also made a solid play in right, likely saving at least one run. The catch, as reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Black, had a 75% catch probability. While Springer making this catch should be expected, it’s worth remembering some Blue Jays right fielders of the past who would maybe struggle to get to this ball.
Fully healthy for the first time in his Blue Jays tenure, Springer’s new presence in right field is being noticed right away. Add in the five hits, a byproduct of exceptional at bats through the entire afternoon, and Springer was a standout from yesterday’s affair.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Guerrero’s game from yesterday deserves some credit. Responsible for saving a run and driving in the Jays winning run, Vlad’s hard work and improved plate approach led to a Blue Jays victory on Thursday.
The run saving play very well would have placed him on this list by itself. Ranging to his right, all while coming off of the bag while holding the runner on first, then the ability to twist his body towards the plate and firing a seed to Kirk to nail the runner, is incredibly impressive. Despite having the worst footwork that Jomboy Media’s co-founder has ever seen, Vlad made one of the best defensive plays in baseball yesterday while making it look easy.
To pile onto yesterday’s success, Guerrero excelled at the plate as well. He drove in three runs over four at bats, seeing a lot of pitches in his final at bat which eventually resulted in a go-ahead sac-fly. Guerrero looked comfortable at the plate against some of the best relief pitching in baseball, as well as hitting the hardest ball in any of the games yesterday, a measly 115.5 MPH off the bat.
There’s about five other hitters that could’ve been placed third on this list of standouts, but Jordan Romano deserves props for his save yesterday. He appeared to effortlessly dispatch three capable Cardinals’ batters to end the game, using his slider and fastball combo to force a strikeout, fly out, and another strikeout.
After a ridiculously turbulent game, which featured a run scored in every inning except the fifth, having Romano come in and slam the door shut was a breath of fresh air. Romano has the chance to cement his reputation as one of the better closers in the American League, and he’s off to a good start in 2023.
Also worth noting, with the off day today, it’s likely all relievers will be available for Saturday’s afternoon game, including the Canadian closer.