Espinal delivers go-ahead hit, Blue Jays beat Rangers 4-3
TORONTO (AP) — Pinch-hitter Santiago Espinal doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, Bo Bichette singled and homered, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 Saturday.
George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. each had two hits, and Bichette scored twice as the Blue Jays improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2016.
Facing left-hander Brett Martin (0-1), Espinal hit for Cavan Biggio with a runner at first and two out. Speedy Raimel Tapia scored without a play at the plate on Espinal’s double to left-center.
Espinal also had a go-ahead RBI double in Friday’s season-opening win.
“Any chance he gets, he produces,” said Bichette. “That’s a special quality, to stay locked in at all times. Obviously he’s helped us a lot.”
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo called Espinal “an unsung hero.”
Espinal gained some weight in offseason workouts and said he’s been noticing the results.
“It feels a lot different from last year and I can tell by my swing, even in BP,” he said.
Of all the hitters in Toronto’s loaded lineup, Rangers manager Chris Woodward was frustrated about being beaten by Espinal.
“We’ve got to stop throwing him fastballs down the middle,” Woodward said. “Anybody can hit those.”
Texas is 0-2 for the second straight season and has lost five in a row to Toronto.
“Overall, we just didn’t do enough to win the game when it came down to it,” Woodward said.
Blue Jays right-hander Trevor Richards (1-0) worked one inning for the win. Yimi García pitched the seventh, Tim Mayza worked the eighth, and Jordan Romano finished for his second save.
Romano has converted 25 consecutive save chances, matching Tom Henke’s 1998 team record.
Making his Toronto debut after signing a $110 million, five-year contract last December, right-hander Kevin Gausman allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out five.
All three runs off Gausman came in the third. Former Blue Jays infielder Marcus Semien hit an RBI double, Corey Seager followed with a run-scoring grounder, and Nathaniel Lowe capped the rally with an RBI single.
“That one inning obviously kind of got away from me a little bit,” Gausman said. “More than anything, just some fastballs I was trying to go up with and kind of missed down in the zone. That’s a big pitch for me. I’m definitely still kind of trying to get into mid-season form with it.”
Guerrero and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in runs for Toronto in a two-run first against right-hander Dane Dunning, and the Blue Jays tied it on Bichette’s first homer this season, a leadoff drive in the fifth,.
Dunning allowed three runs and five hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out four.
Rangers: Texas put RHP Jon Gray on 10-day injured list because of a blister on his right middle finger, and recalled RHP Spencer Patton from Triple-A Round Rock. Gray left Friday’s opening day start after four innings.
Blue Jays: LHP Ryan Borucki (right hamstring) reported no issues after a two inning simulated game Friday, manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Blue Jays OF Teoscar Hernández was hit by pitches in the third and seventh innings.
Rangers SS Seager went 2 for 4 with an RBI and has hit safely in 12 of 13 games dating to 2021.
Blue Jays LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (14-10, 4.37 in 2021) starts Sunday as Toronto goes for the sweep. Ryu went 1-1 in two starts against Texas last season, the only times in his career he has faced them. The Rangers have not announced a starter.
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