TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays had to move on from a four-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was more than happy to help them do that.
Guerrero Jr.’s three-run homer lifted the Blue Jays over the Boston Red Sox 3-0 on Friday to snap Toronto’s four-game losing skid. That sweep at the hands of the Rangers dropped the Blue Jays out of a wild-card berth but the win helps Toronto keep pace with Texas and the Seattle Mariners.
“The key is just to leave everything in the past,” said Guerrero through translator Hector Lebron. “I mean you can at least forget about it.
“It’s a new day and I’m just being positive and we just keep working hard.”
The Blue Jays are only a half game back of the Seattle Mariners for the third and final AL wild-card spot. The Mariners dropped a 6-3 decision to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. The Jays trail the Texas Rangers — who hold the second wild-card berth — by one-and-a-half games after the Rangers lost 12-3 to the host Cleveland Guardians.
“I think we’re in a good position right now,” said Guerrero. “If you take a look at the schedules for Texas and Seattle, they’ve got to play six or seven games against each other which is good for us.
“We’ve just got to stay positive, keep working hard and try to get some more victories.”
José Berríos (11-10) struck out eight over seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits, as Toronto (81-67) kept pace in the American League’s wild-card chase.
Relievers Jordan Hicks and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., preserved the win for Toronto. Romano earned his 35th save of the year.
“No matter how we do it, we want to win, and we did it,” said Berríos. “We passed through a rough four-game series with Texas and we turned the page.”
Brayan Bello (12-9) struck out 10 but gave up three runs on four hits and a walk over six innings for Boston (74-74). Chris Murphy came out of the Red Sox bullpen.
Guerrero smashed his 23rd home run of the season to give Toronto a 3-0 lead in the third inning. He took a 96.6 m.p.h. four-seam fastball from Bello 400 feet to deep left field, scoring Daulton Varsho and Bo Bichette.
It was Guerrero’s second home run in as many games after his two-run blast was all the Blue Jays could muster in a 9-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday.
“When you can hit a home run with guys on, with traffic, it’s a momentum shifter,” said Toronto manager John Schneider. “I think with our pitching staff, it just makes it very easy to maintain that kind of level of focus or that level of energy.”
Berríos backed up that offence with precise pitching, striking out three consecutive Red Sox batters for a three up, three down fourth inning. He was at his most efficient in the first at bat of the inning, fanning Boston right-fielder Alex Verdugo on just three pitches.
After Hicks kept the Red Sox scoreless in the eighth, Romano took the mound.
Romano got Justin Turner swinging for a third strike, induced a Verdugo popfly, and then struck out Masataka Yoshida to end the game.
CLEMENTE AWARD — Guerrero was named the Toronto Blue Jays nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award in a brief pre-game ceremony. Clemente died in a plane crash at the age of 38 on New Year’s Eve 1972 while delivering emergency aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The award is given annually to the Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.
ON DECK — Right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt (14-8) gets the start as Toronto continues its series with the Red Sox. Lefty Chris Sale (6-4) will go for Boston.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2023.