TORONTO — It’s been a solid start to the Toronto Blue Jays’ season, winning their first home-opening series at Rogers Centre in three years.
Santiago Espinal said after Saturday’s 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers that it’s a joy for the players to come to Toronto’s clubhouse every day. He believes that cohesiveness is integral to the Blue Jays’ culture.
“I love coming in here early and seeing everybody happy, seeing everybody dancing,” said Espinal. “This is just the first two games, I know we have a lot of games left, but this is going to be the same team every day.”
Toronto starts its first road trip of the season on Monday night, facing the New York Yankees in a four-game series. The Yankees also won their first series of 2022, taking two out of three games from the visiting Boston Red Sox.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said his team isn’t fazed by the Yankees since every team in the competitive American League East is dangerous.
“It’s not a test because you’re going to be facing those teams so many times,” he said after Sunday’s 12-6 loss to Texas.
Friday’s home opener was the Blue Jays’ first in Toronto since 2019, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing them to play most of the past two seasons in Dunedin, Fla., and Buffalo N.Y. A sold-out crowd of 45,022 filled Rogers Centre _ the first sellout at Toronto’s ballpark since March 29, 2018.
Teoscar Hernandez had a three-run homer and scored the winning run on Friday as the Blue Jays came back from a seven-run deficit to beat Texas 10-8.
Espinal hit a go-ahead RBI double in the home opener, and then drove home the game-winning run with another double in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Rangers. Espinal was pinch hitting for second baseman Cavan Biggio in both games and said that Toronto’s team-first mentality is the Blue Jays’ strength.
“You know, we’re all family, we’re all together and we’ve all got our backs,” he said. “Just coming in every day, hard work and making sure that every opportunity that we make sure we take advantage of it.”
Toronto’s relief pitchers combined for 18 1/3 innings in the three-game set, but Montoyo noted that relievers Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards, Yimi Garcia, and closer Jordan Romano were all rested.
“But should be OK for tomorrow,” said Montoyo about playing the Yankees in New York on Monday.
Montoyo also hoped that Alek Manoah, who is scheduled to pitch on Monday, would go deeper than starters Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, and Hyun Jin Ryu did over the weekend against Texas. Gausman went the deepest of the three, pitching five innings on Saturday.
The Blue Jays return to Toronto on this coming Friday to host the Oakland Athletics in a three-game set.