The Blue Jays followed the lead of their leadoff hitter, better known as the Springer of Rain who would reign supreme on this Saturday afternoon.
George Springer hit two dingers against his former team and would also get hit by a pitch as the host Jays and visiting Houston Astros played a hotly contested middle game of a three-game series.
Unlike Friday night’s series opener when Houston escaped with an 11-7 win, the second game wasn’t as offensively dominant.
Still, all three runs came courtesy of the long ball, including the two produced by Springer in a 2-1 Toronto win, highlighted by a leadoff blast.
The teams combined for five homers Friday night and 27 hits in total.
Game 2 was a mixed bag of solid defence and missed scoring opportunities, but entertaining just the same minus the fireworks from Friday.
Jordan Romano sealed the deal by retiring Houston in order in the ninth to record his 10th save.
The rubber match is Sunday.
Toronto starter Jose Berrios, who earned the win, left with runners at the corner and two outs in the sixth inning.
Adam Cimber came on in relief to record the third out.
He got the first two outs in the seventh before Cimber made way for Tim Mayza, a lefty, who faced left-handed clean-up hitter Yordan Alvarez.
Mayza walked Alvarez.
Mayza then induced a force out at second when Yuli Gurriel hit a ball to Bo Bichette at short.
Earlier in the game, Bichette made a fielding error.
After Alvarez hit his second home run in as many games against the Jays in Houston’s top half of the fourth inning to cut Toronto’s lead in half, Santiago Espinal was presented with an opportunity to increase the advantage.
When he stepped up to the plate in the home half of the inning, there were runners at second and third.
Espinal make a solid swing, but his line drive was handled cleanly by Astros centre-fielder Jose Siri to end the inning.
A similar scenario was presented to Houston in the top of the fifth inning.
This time, it was Gurriel at the plate with two outs and runners at second and third.
Gurriel struck out swinging to end the inning.
For the second time this season, both at home, manager Charlie Montoyo was thrown out of the game.
In Toronto’s bottom half of the fifth inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came to the plate with Springer at second and two outs.
Springer reached base on a hit pitch and then stole second.
Vlad Jr. took an outside pitch from Astros starter Luis Garcia.
Home plate umpire Nic Lentz ruled it a strike.
And it was a strike because it caught the outside of the plate.
Vlad Jr. objected and tossed his bat into the dirt.
Montoyo jumped out of the dugout to defend Vlad Jr. and would quickly be ejected for arguing the call.
ONE TO REMEMBER
The first inning featured a defensive gem on the game’s first pitch and a leadoff blast by Springer, the one-time Astro and former World Series MVP.
The fun began when Berrios threw his first pitch on the afternoon to Houston leadoff hitter in Chas McCormick.
The outfielder turned on it and sent a ball that looked like a sure double in left-centre gap.
Jays starting centre fielder Bradley Zimmer got a great jump on the ball and dove to his right to make a highlight reel catch.
He had a shot at another gem in the third inning, but failed to secure the ball off the bat of, oddly enough, McCormick.
Springer, who DHed, his fifth home run of the season and his second leadoff blast against his former team.
Saturday’s leadoff belt was his third of the season and the 46th-career leadoff long ball.
In his first at-bat against his former team last week in Houston, Springer went deep on a leadoff bomb.
There’s cautious optimism Hyun Jin Ryu will soon be back in the rotation following his bout with a forearm issue that landed the lefty on the 10-day injured list.
According to Montoyo, the one-time ace of Toronto’s staff is likely slotted for a rehab start in the minors before he faces big-league hitters.
On Saturday, Ryu pitched a three-inning simulated game.
Barring a setback, it seems certain Ryu will be back in the rotation at some point early this month.
TEO ON THE MEND
With Ryu’s return on the horizon, another injured player expected back soon is Teoscar Hernandez, who has been dealing with an oblique injury.
During Toronto’s homestand, the slugger has been seen taking part in baseball-related activities.
On Saturday, the Jays’ cleanup hitter took live BP, a session Montoyo would say went according to plan.
The team is now mulling a rehab assignment for Hernandez this week at the Jays’ triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.
Tayler Saucedo has been placed on the 10-day injured list after the lefty hurt his hip on a throw to first base Friday night.
He made five appearances this season.
The move paved the way for the Jays to summon RHP Bowden Francis from triple-A Buffalo.
Saucedo is the second lefty reliever the Jays have placed on the IL during their homestand after Ryan Borucki developed a blister on his middle finger.
Borucki didn’t break camp with the Blue Jays after suffering a hamstring injury during spring training.