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Blue Jays and Rays Split Opening Series

After every Blue Jays series, this Canadian will sum up his five stars of the set and throw in my two cents (worth .015 US).

An opening series split on the road against a top AL East contender?

I’ll take it.

As a Jays fan, you would think I would despise the traditional division rivals of New York and Boston the most, but the Tampa Bay Rays have topped my hate list for years.  It’s not the team so much as staring at mostly empty seats in a stale atmosphere.  I know that the St. Petersburg location is hard to access, leading to non-sellouts even in the playoffs, but had you told me in the late ‘90s that the hockey fan base in Tampa would come across as more passionate than baseball ones, I would have checked you into the nearest psychiatric facility.

Tampa fans, I would love to know if it is just the facility/location that keeps you away! 

As for the series, the Jays’ starting pitching was as inconsistent as always, and though we did not see many deep balls, the Jays outscored the Rays 20-17. There were no close games, so we have yet to see what the Toronto closers could do in 2024, but we did see some sparkling performances from the bullpen.

Here are my five stars of the Series:

Jose Berrios, 1 W, 6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 6 SO, 1.167 WHIP: Berrios has frustrated me since he arrived in Toronto, especially in 2022 when he allowed the most Hits (199) and Earned Runs (100), so six innings with two runs allowed is a solid debut in my eyes. Berrios had a Game Score of 57, command of his pitches and ate the most innings of any Jays starter. 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 2 R, 4 H, 1 XBH, 1 HR, 1 RBI .308/.500/.538/1.033:  Of the four hits that Vladdy had, only one went for extra bases (one Solo Home Run), but what impressed me was his plate discipline.  Guerrero drew five free passes and has an OBP leaving the series, and you need your best hotter to be over one in OPS or close to it. 

Ernie Clement, 2 R, 3 H, 0 XBH, 0 HR, 0 RBI .333/.333/.333/.667  Clement made the Jays’ opening-day roster, and he is not the type of player, but he can get on base. He did so with three singles, scoring two Runs. The utility man has already played three positions: Third Base, Shortstop, and Leftfield, and with Bo Bichette on the IR, he will likely see more playing time against Houston.

Justin Turner, 4 R, 4 H, 3 XBH, 1 HR, 4 RBI .286/.375/.643/1.018:  Nearing 40, Turner was one of two players to have an OPS over 1,000 for the series, and he was the star hitter in the last game of the series. 

Mitch White, 1 W, 3.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 SO, 0.333 WHIP:  White entered this game with a career -1.3 bWAR in 58 Games, but he pitched three innings of no-hit ball and got the win when he came in for relief f Kevin Gausman in the final game of the series.  This is his first win in a Jays uniform after recording six losses.

Honorable mentions for George Springer (5 R, 3 H 2 XBH, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .167/.278/.563/.840), Kevin Gausman (4.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 6 SO, 0.462 WHIP) and Cavan Biggio (2 R, 3 H 1 XBH, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .250/.400/.500/.900)

Up next for Toronto is three games on the road against the always dangerous Houston Astros. 

Kirk Buchner
Kirk Buchner
Owner/Operator at the Notinhalloffame.com network @notinhalloffame


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