Marcus Stroman shines, Blue Jays offence picks up where it left off
Toronto ace throws 8-plus innings, holds Rays to 6 hits
All eyes were on the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday as fans were eager to see if the defending AL East champions could live up to all the off-season hype.
Though it came right down to the final inning, Jays fans can breathe a small sigh of relief as Toronto started the season 1-0 with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Any concerns about Edwin Encarnacion not batting in a Major League spring training game quickly faded away as the slugger drove home two runs with a single in the first inning, giving the Jays an early lead.
That didn't take long!<br><br>Edwin Encarnacion drives in a couple of runs to give Blue Jays the early lead. <a href="https://t.co/x3UkH8w6cS">pic.twitter.com/x3UkH8w6cS</a>—@BBTN
The Blue Jays are now on pace for 2916 runs scored this season.—@dalter
The Rays would get one back in the third inning off the bat of Evan Longoria's single, before Kevin Pillar had an RBI single of his own in the fourth.
Troy Tulowitzki would then provide some insurance late by knocking one out of the park in the eighth, bringing home Encarnacion and providing the first home run of the 2016 season for any player. Now 31 years old, Tulowitzki has only surpassed 140 regular-season games once (2011) since 2009, but if the shortstop continues to stay healthy, he could be a lethal threat in the Jays' lineup.
GONE! The first home run of the 2016 <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB">@MLB</a> season belongs to Tulo! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OurMoment?src=hash">#OurMoment</a>—@BlueJays
Atta boy Tulo. Homers in opener <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bluejays?src=hash">#bluejays</a> among World Series favorites. Jays were 31-8 in games he played last year—@TroyRenck
Tulo has more home runs than the rest of the league combined <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueJays?src=hash">#BlueJays</a>—@jonbutlerlwm
But maybe the biggest story for the Jays was the performance of starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who threw eight-plus innings and held Tampa to three runs on six hits. Had he finished the game, Stroman would have become the first Blue Jays pitcher to throw a complete game on opening day since Jack Morris in 1992.
Instead, it was closer Roberto Osuna who made a little history of his own, becoming the youngest pitcher in MLB history to record a save on opening day. Osuna is just 21 years old.
Stroman has retired 12 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rays?src=hash">#Rays</a> in a row. Just 92p through 8 innings of dominance. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bluejays?src=hash">#Bluejays</a> up 5-1 to the 9th! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jays?src=hash">#Jays</a>—@Wilnerness590
Stroman and Osuna picked up where they left. If you didn't know, now you know! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bluejays?src=hash">#bluejays</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OurMoment?src=hash">#OurMoment</a> <a href="https://t.co/ueKPI5ZLWo">pic.twitter.com/ueKPI5ZLWo</a>—@marco_418
So with the proverbial monkey off their backs and and many fans eagerly watching (the Jays are the second most followed MLB team on Twitter with 1.3 million followers, the most followed professional sports team in Canada) it seemed there was only one reasonable conclusion to draw about the outlook for the rest of the season.
BLUEJAYS ARE ON PACE FOR 162-0—@alex_daddese
.<a href="https://twitter.com/BlueJays">@BlueJays</a> on pace for an undefeated season 😏 🙌—@ShannonSzabados
162-0. Remember this tweet.—@donovanw11
Then again, maybe we should just take things one step at a time.
Good win for the boys. On to the next! <a href="https://twitter.com/BlueJays">@BlueJays</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HDMH?src=hash">#HDMH</a>—@MStrooo6