Sports

Blue Jays earn well-deserved A grades in win over A’s

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On Jackie Robinson Day, a former member in Dodger Blue helped steal the spotlight.

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It turned into a red-letter day for Ross Stripling, who took to the mound for the host Blue Jays in his season debut as a starter.

The one-time L.A. righty tossed four scoreless innings before he made way for Toronto’s pen, which sealed the deal in a 4-1 win.

The Jays entered the night on the heels of a loss.

A setback Friday night against the Oakland A’s would have meant the first two-game slide for the Jays, but Stripling wanted nothing of it.

He was aided by a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. home run as the home side struck first.

Stripling would strike out three, while throwing 40 strikes in total during his 62-pitch outing.

Matt Chapman played his first game against his former team, a rather uneventful night at the plate featuring one walk and two men left on base.

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Santiago Espinal was stellar, while Zach Collins came up big with a clutch RBI.

Espinal did come to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh only to ground out.

On the night, the Jays left 10 on base.

Four relievers were used by the Jays before they turned to closer Jordan Romano, who nailed down his 28th consecutive save.

The night, though, began with Stripling, whose presence on the mound set the tone.

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VLAD THE IMPALER

Credit Vlad Jr. for having a short memory.

Clearly he put aside his four-K night at Yankee Stadium, one night after his majestic three-homer, 14-total-bases masterpiece, in his first at-bat Friday night.

A’s starter Daulton Jefferies retired the first two batters to begin his night.

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Up stepped Vlad Jr., who served as the Jays’ DH in the No. 3 slot in the order.

On a two-two count, he drilled a fastball that left his bat like a bullet.

It was Vladdy’s fifth bomb of the season and fourth in three nights.

Vlad Jr. was in the on-deck circle in the series finale in New York when the host Yankees held on for a 3-0 victory after the visitors loaded the bases in the ninth.

Some immediately cried foul hoping to see Vlad Jr. in the No. 2 in an effort to give him more at-bats.

The Jays kept the kid in the No. 3 hole.

Toronto had Cavan Biggio start at first.

The bottom third of the lineup had Biggio batting ninth, Collins starting at catcher and batting eighth and Espinal batting seventh and playing second base.

The hot-hitting Espinal produced a hit in his first at-bat.

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In Vlad Jr.’s second at-bat, he stroked a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drew a two-out walk to bring Chapman to the plate.

He would fly out to centre on a sequence featuring a nice running catch made by Cristian Pache.

Vlad Jr.’s third at-bat came in the fifth with one on and one out in a 2-0 game.

He flew out to left.

The inning ended when Bo Bichette was picked off at first.

NO VAX, NO PLAY

The visiting A’s were forced shuffle the deck in the hours leading up to opening pitch in the opener of a three-game series

The roster moves featured catcher Austin Allen and relievers A.J. Puk and Kirby Snead being placed on the restricted list.

Additionally, Stephen Piscotty was placed on the COVID-19 injured list, but the A’s wouldn’t say whether the outfielder tested positive.

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To compensate for the loss of the aforementioned players, Oakland added catcher Christian Bethancourt, infielder Drew Jackson and pitchers Ryan Castellani and Zach Logue as substitute players.

Being vaccinated is a condition for entering Canada and any unvaccinated player is placed on MLB’s restricted list.

In this case, players won’t receive pay or service time for missed games.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone recently expressed his concern about the roster impact stemming from rules that players who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus won’t be allowed to travel into Canada.

Star outfielder Aaron Judge has declined to say if he is vaccinated.

The Bronx Bombers, who split their four-game series against the Blue Jays in the Big Apple, will be in town beginning May 2 for a three-game affair.

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HOT CORNER SMITH

When the A’s traded Chapman, the return package was highlighted by Kevin Smith and 2021 first-round right-hander Gunnar Hoglund.

Smith started at third base for the A’s, even though his most natural position is at short.

Oakland’s current starter at the middle infield position is Elvis Andrus, at least for now.

It’s no secret the A’s are in the midst of transforming their roster.

Smith has the necessary power to play the hot corner, while also possessing the requisite defence to play short.

In his first at-bat, Smith stroked a double in Oakland’s top half of the third, but was left stranded.

It was Oakland’s first hit off Stripling.

The first time the A’s threatened came in the sixth inning with Tim Mayza on the mound.

NATS NET JOSH

The Washington Nationals claimed outfielder Josh Palacios off waivers from the Blue Jays and optioned him to triple-A Rochester.

Earlier in the week, Washington opened a spot on the 40-man roster when infielder Dee Strange-Gordon was placed on the COVID-19 injured list.

Palacios, 26, made his MLB debut last season with the Jays, appearing in eight games.

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