Worthy first impression made by Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Berrios; keeps good the vibes

·3 min read

TORONTO — Jose Berrios made a worthy first impression on his new Blue Jays teammates to continue the good vibrations for the team in its return to Rogers Centre.

Berrios helped Toronto sweep the Kansas City Royals with six shutout innings in a 5-1 victory before a crowd of 14,427 under an open roof on Sunday. The Blue Jays (54-48) outscored their opponents 15-5 in the three-game set, their first series in Toronto in 22 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The right-handed Berrios (8-5) landed on the Blue Jays doorstep from the Minnesota Twins before the trade deadline on Friday. In exchange for the dependable starter, Toronto sent prime prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richards the other way.

Berrios arrived in town on Saturday evening. His debut outing for Toronto was far from the all-star form he exhibited in 2018 and 2019. But he found ways to pitch out of jams with strikeouts at critical times.

Berrios fanned seven Royals, hit three batters and surrendered five hits in his 95-pitch, 64-strike outing.

The new Blue Jays starter was hit hard early. Berrios yielded four singles in the nine batters he faced in the first two innings. But he found his groove in the third, fourth and fifth innings, only to struggle again in the sixth.

Berrios surrendered a one-out double to outfielder Andrew Benintendi and loaded the bases after hitting Hunter Dozier and Michael Taylor with two outs. But Berrios struck out Edward Olivares, the final batter he faced for the afternoon.

Berrios's new teammates gave him the necessary run support in the third inning. Red-hot George Springer knocked in catcher Reese McGuire with a double to right-centre field. Infielder Marcus Semien then smashed a two-run homer for his 25th of the season.

Kansas City starter Brad Keller (7-10) left the game after three innings because of lower-back tightness.

Toronto third baseman Santiago Espinal slammed a solo shot in the fourth. The Blue Jays pushed home an additional run an inning later after four consecutive walks to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Cavan Biggio, Randal Grichuk and Espinal.

Trevor Richards relieved Berrios with a one-two-three seventh inning and struck out Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez to begin the eighth before giving way to reliever Tim Mayza. Royals outfielder Edward Olivares hit a two-out ninth-inning homer to left field off Mayza to spoil the shutout.

Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was given the day off.

Even though the Royals (45-59) are in the bottom third of the overall Major League Baseball standings, they arrived in Toronto on an 8-2 run.

With the arrival of Berrios and reliever Joakim Soria, also acquired before Friday's trade deadline, the Blue Jays optioned pitchers Thomas Hatch and Tayler Saucedo to Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2021.

Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press

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