June 19th, 2024

Berrios makes strong start as Blue Jays top Mariners 5-2 in home opener

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press on April 8, 2024.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios delivers against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

TORONTO – Jose Berrios threw 6 2/3 shutout innings and Davis Schneider drove in two runs as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Seattle Mariners 5-2 on Monday night in their home opener at Rogers Centre.

Berrios (2-0) allowed a walk, four hits and had six strikeouts as Toronto improved to 5-6 in front of a sellout crowd of 40,069.

J.P. Crawford hit a solo homer for Seattle (4-7) in the eighth inning off reliever Yimi Garcia. Cal Raleigh added a solo blast in the ninth off Blue Jays reliever Chad Green.

Toronto outhit Seattle 11-7. The Blue Jays improved to 30-18 all-time in home openers.

First pitch was about a half-hour later than normal due to a pre-game ceremony and player introductions. Berrios, who also got the Opening Day start against Tampa Bay, was in strong early form as he gave up just one single over the first four innings.

After a clean opening frame, the Blue Jays got to Mariners starter Luis Castillo (0-3) in the second.

Justin Turner reached on a double in the left-field corner and scored on Alejandro Kirk’s two-out single. Isiah Kiner-Falefa doubled to the opposite corner to move Kirk to third base but they were stranded when Kevin Kiermaier struck out.

Kiermaier, who like Berrios was acknowledged before the game for Gold Glove Awards last year, flashed some of his defensive skills in the third inning. He made a nice running catch in right-centre field to deny Josh Rojas an extra-base hit.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. legged out an infield single in the bottom half of the inning and moved to third on a Bo Bichette double that just missed clearing the fence in centre field.

Turner walked to load the bases for Schneider, who floated a single that scored two runs. Toronto padded its lead in the fourth inning when Guerrero drove in Kiermaier from second base with a double.

Kiermaier delivered two more strong defensive plays in the fifth. He hustled into the gap to cut off a Ty France hit that forced the runner to stay at first base.

France tested Kiermaier’s arm on a single by Dominic Calzone and the veteran outfielder threw a strike to Kiner-Falefa, but the Toronto third baseman didn’t lower his glove right away for the tag and the out call was overturned on review.

Berrios struck out Rojas and got J.P. Crawford to ground out to end the threat.

Castillo was pulled after five innings. He gave up four earned runs, nine hits, a walk and had six strikeouts.

Toronto manager John Schneider heard some boos when he pulled Berrios after he gave up a two-out broken-bat single in the seventh.

It was their first appearance at Rogers Centre since the skipper’s much-criticized decision to pull the right-hander in the fourth inning of a Game 2 wild-card series loss last year in Minnesota.

The Blue Jays tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning when Kiner-Falefa sliced a single that brought home pinch-runner Daulton Varsho.

The game took two hours 33 minutes to play.

CUT CORNERS

The lower bowl at Rogers Centre was upgraded over the off-season as part of a multi-stage project to turn the stadium from a multi-use facility into more of a baseball-specific venue.

One of the more noticeable on-field changes is the new-look corners with the seating section raised higher near the foul screens. The renovations trimmed about 3,000 square feet of foul territory at the stadium, the team said.

After the team returned to town Sunday evening from a 10-game road trip, third-base coach Carlos Febles spent time looking down the lines to envision how the corners might play.

“He was actually standing out there last night for quite a while, Carlos was, trying to get the lay of the land,” John Schneider said in his pre-game media availability.

Febles was hired last November after spending 17 seasons as a coach in the Boston Red Sox organization. He handled third-base coach duties at the big-league level from 2018-23.

Febles succeeds Luis Rivera as Toronto’s third-base coach. Rivera, who retired after last season, threw the ceremonial first pitch.

COMING UP

The three-game series continues Tuesday night. Chris Bassitt (0-2, 7.71 earned-run average) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays against fellow right-hander George Kirby (1-1, 5.23).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2024.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

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