'Perfect storm': Blue Jays trounce Cleveland in weather-shortened affair
Toronto offences explodes early before game called in bottom of 7th due to rain, wind
The wind tore through Progressive Field, the rain never stopped and the temperature made it feel more like mid-November than late May.
The Blue Jays weathered it.
Hyun Jin Ryu regained his control after a rough first inning battling strong winds and a wet baseball and Panik and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in three runs apiece, leading the Blue Jays over Cleveland 11-2 Friday night in a game called in the bottom of the seventh.
For more than two hours, the teams, umpires and fans endured winds gusting to 45 mph and steady, blowing rain that made outdoor activities miserable.
"That was some of the worst conditions I think I've ever seen," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
Major League Baseball was hit hard by bad weather to start the holiday weekend as games in Washington, New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago were rained out and one in Boston was delayed before being stopped after six innings.
This one probably should have never gotten started.
Panik connected for a two-run homer in the third to make it 6-2 against Eli Morgan (0-1), who may remember his major league debut more for the lousy weather than anything else.
"I feel bad for him," Francona said of the 25-year-old, who was recalled from Triple-A Columbus. "I don't know how you evaluate that outing. I thought he was going to get blown off the mound. That was a really tough task."
Panik had four hits and Santiago Espinal also had three RBIs for the Blue Jays, who have been playing their home games in sunny Florida but will soon shift to Buffalo.
🎶 Any way the wind blows 🎶 <a href="https://t.co/perIU4bM6P">pic.twitter.com/perIU4bM6P</a>—@BlueJays
With Naylor leading off the seventh, crew chief Bill Miller watched two pitches get thrown by Trent Thornton before waving for the grounds crew. After a 36-minute delay — the tarp didn't come out for 30 minutes — the game was finally called.
"I think the pitcher slipped," Francona said. "And Bill Miller had come over the inning before and said the minute something happens we want to protect the players. And I fully understand that. It was a difficult night to say the least. "
Ryu settles in
It was the first meeting between Toronto and Cleveland since 2019.
Ryu (5-2) allowed two runs — both in the first — and four hits in five innings. However, the left-hander shook off a 32-pitch and settled in to win his fourth straight decision. He walked two in the opening inning after not allowing more than one walk in any of his first nine starts in 2021.
"That's why he's Ryu," Panik said. "That's why he's our ace. It doesn't matter the conditions, he'll figure out a way."
Helped by a whipping wind which made everything hit in the air an adventure for outfielders, the Blue Jays scored four runs in the third off Morgan.
Randal Grichuk hit an RBI single. Gurriel Jr. doubled in a run with a shot to right that fooled Naylor and Panik crushed his first homer since Sept. 16 into the teeth of the wind, which stretched the U.S. and Canadian flags to the limit on their poles beyond centre field.
The Blue Jays added three more runs in the fifth on Gurriel's two-run double and an RBI single by Panik.
The 25-year-old Morgan was tagged for six runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
"Yeah, it was strange," Morgan said of his first taste of big league ball. "Thankful though, the whole day, I was wondering if we'd even get the game in. So, very thankful for that."
Eddie Rosario's two-run single gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the first. But Toronto quickly tied it in the second on Espinal's RBI groundout and a flyball to left-centre by Danny Jansen that changed direction and turned into a double.