Guerrero Jr. sparks rally to help Blue Jays claim series opener in Atlanta
Defensive lapse from Freeman allows Toronto's Hernandez to cash in winning run
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered and drove in three runs and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of Atlanta's indecisive fielding in the eighth inning, rallying past Atlanta 5-3 Tuesday night.
Guerrero had three hits, including a tying single in a three-run eighth.
"I always stay focused, just try to keep swinging and get good contact on the ball, and when it happens it just happens," Guerrero said through a translator.
Toronto trailed 3-2 when Jonathan Davis led off the eighth with a double. Marcus Semien followed with a weak grounder to reliever A.J. Minter (1-1), who turned, hesitated and then threw too late to try to catch Davis returning to second base. A replay appeal by Atlanta confirmed Davis slid back safely.
"I realized he was out too far and I hesitated and double-pumped," Minter said.
O<br>PLAKATA 💥<br>P<br>O <a href="https://t.co/dwqKbM0sZo">pic.twitter.com/dwqKbM0sZo</a>—@BlueJays
It was a key mistake.
"He had the guy out at second on the comebacker," said Atlanta manger Brian Snitker of Minter. "Who knows where the inning goes if he gests that out."
A single by Bo Bichette loaded the bases before Guerrero's single made it 3-all.
With the bases still loaded, Teoscar Hernandez hit a grounder to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who was off the bag. Freeman looked to the plate, paused and then had no play with no fielder covering first. The play was ruled a run-scoring infield single for Hernandez for a 4-3 lead. Jacob Webb's walk to Cavan Biggio forced in another run.
The lead is ours thanks to this <a href="https://twitter.com/TeoscarH?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeoscarH</a> ROCKET 😳 <a href="https://t.co/oIXCTLABqB">pic.twitter.com/oIXCTLABqB</a>—@BlueJays
Snitker said Freeman couldn't immediately throw to the plate because he briefly bobbled the ball.
"Freddie just didn't come up with the ball," Snitker said. "He couldn't find a handle for a little bit."
Trent Thornton (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh.
Guerrero's two-run homer off Bryse Wilson tied it at 2 in the sixth. Guerrero put his forefinger to his lips as he jogged around the bases, encouraging silence from the crowd of 21,688.
Minutes later, home fans cheered when Ozuna's homer off Robbie Ray in the sixth gave Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
Ray set a season high with 10 strikeouts while giving up three runs on five hits, including two homers, in six innings.