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Toronto Blue Jays’ Fans Will No Doubt Let Ohtani Know What They Think Of Him Tonight

It’s probably a good time to set up a key weekend series for the Toronto Blue Jays, as the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers come into Rogers Centre.

Tonight’s game (7:07 p.m. EST first pitch) is where Blue Jays fans will get to express their feelings towards Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for the first time.

When we were asked earlier this year to pick five Blue Jays games to mark on your calendar, for the first half of the 2024 season, tonight’s was one of them.

The big story this off-season was the Jays’ courtship of the free agent Ohtani, then the club (and Jays fans, judging by the emotional reaction in this market after Ohtani accepted $700 million to sign with the Dodgers) was callously used as a bargaining chip by the agents to squeeze more cash from the Dodgers. There was some shoddy media reporting in there as well, saying erroneously that Ohtani was on a plane to Toronto for a media conference to announce a signing.

That becomes even more of an issue this weekend, as hitting is the Jays’ Achilles heel. They haven’t scored more than five runs in 17 straight games now. They’re 21st in team hitting, at .231. They’re 15th in on base percentage (.317), 21st in the slugging percentage (.369), 20th in OPS (.686), 22nd in home runs (22). The Jays aren’t scaring anybody offensively.

Ohtani, meanwhile, has a .358 batting average, six HRs, 16 RBIs and five stolen bases for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers are 16-11, first place in the National League West, winners of four in a row.

The Jays? They’ve been sliding, coming out of a series in Kansas City against the Royals where they went 1-3 – three losses in a row. They’re back at .500 now – 13-13, fourth in the AL East.

All eyes are going to be on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. tonight in Toronto, since in 2021 he was neck and neck with Ohtani for AL MVP. That season Guerrero Jr. hit 48 HRs, 111 RBIs, but he has clearly regressed the past two seasons (66th in MLB last season in slugging percentage, at .444). Ohtani won the MVP that year.

There’s no better stage for Guerrero Jr. to bust out of an early season slump than tonight. Guerrero Jr. is hitting just .214, with three HRs and nine RBIs. His .667 OPS is 119th in MLB.

After Ohtani signed the deal with the Dodgers he said that he “felt bad” for “the country of Canada”, which of course made it all seem worse. Jays’ fans can let Ohtani know what they think of him and the business of sport tonight.

Dodgers are scheduled to start right-hander Gavin Stone (1-1, 6.00 ERA) tonight, with the Jays countering with Chris Bassitt (2-3, 3.90). Toronto recalled left-hander Brendon Little from AAA Buffalo yesterday after placing right-handed pitcher Bowden Francis (right forearm extensor tendinitis) on the injured list.


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