Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jays attempt to take series vs. Rangers

MLB Baseball

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. helped the Toronto Blue Jays get off to a strong start to their final homestand at Buffalo and put them in a position to clinch their three-game series against the Texas Rangers Saturday afternoon.

Guerrero, the MVP of the All-Star Game, homered twice and had four RBIs Friday night in a 10-2 victory over the Rangers in the series opener. Teoscar Hernandez added a two-run blast and Marcus Semien and Randal Grichuk added solo shots.

The homers by Guerrero, Semien, and Hernandez marked the first time that three teammates started together in an All-Star Game, then homered in the first game after the break, according to Stats Perform.

The Blue Jays’ five-homer barrage came after they received government approval to resume playing home games at the Rogers Centre starting July 30. They have not played in Toronto since 2019 because of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guerrero is continuing a season that has made him a candidate for American League MVP. He has 30 home runs and 77 RBIs.

In his first two seasons in the major leagues, 2019-20, Guerrero would feel fatigue late in the season. He entered this season slimmer and in better condition. Before the game Friday, he admitted that the All-Star Game did not give him much of a rest, but he feels better equipped to cope with the longer season.

“I’m going to be honest with you — I’m not going to tell you that I’m at 100 percent right now for the second half — but I’m healthy, I’m feeling good,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “In past years, of course, by this time, I couldn’t even talk. I felt very tired in the past. This year, I’m ready and I feel good. All of the hard work I put in over the offseason is paying off.”

Toronto will start left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (8-5, 3.56 ERA) against Texas left-hander Kolby Allard (2-6, 3.69) on Saturday.

Ryu took the loss against the Rangers April 7 in Arlington, when he allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings in his only career outing against Texas.

Allard, 23, is 1-6 with a 3.95 ERA in eight starts since he was inserted into the rotation. In his only outing against Toronto, he earned the victory Aug. 14, 2019, when he allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The Rangers did have positives on Friday. Eli White hit a two-run homer in the ninth, and rookie Jonah Heim, a Buffalo native, received an ovation for his seventh-inning single.

It was the 26-year-old’s first game at Sahlen Field, although he had attended camps there as a 10-year-old. The circumstances made it a unique major league homecoming.

“It’s obviously something I never thought would come true,” he said.

The last time a Buffalo-born player appeared in a major league game in the city, according to Elias Sports Bureau, was Oct. 1, 1890, when John Gillespie played for the Buffalo Bisons of the short-lived Players League.

In the 17 games before the All-Star break, the switch-hitting catcher was batting .321 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

“I’m excited for his second half,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said recently. “And obviously, I’ve hit him in the middle of the lineup, after Joey (Gallo), who is the best hitter in baseball right now, to protect him.”

–Field Level Media

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