Blue Jays go deep five times in newly renovated Rogers Centre for 9-3 comeback win over Tigers

Stefan Luciani
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The Toronto Blue Jays combined for five long balls Tuesday night to overcome an early 3-0 hole and pick up their second straight home opening victory.

TORONTO – Blue Jays fans are all too familiar with some of the acrobatic home run saving catches centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier has made, and is more than capable of making. 


After all, they’ve seen it firsthand countless times during his long tenure with division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays


Kiermaier certainly shows no signs of slowing down though, scaling the newly shortened centre field wall at Rogers Centre to perfection Tuesday night, to rob Detroit’s Kerry Carpenter of a straightaway solo shot. 


Only this time, he did it wearing a Blue Jays jersey.


“Electric. Just absolutely electric,” was all he could muster up when asked about the environment during his on-field interview postgame just seconds before getting an ice water shower from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 


The 32-year-old was present on both sides of the ball in Tuesday’s home opener in downtown Toronto, finishing the night with the run saving grab, as well as a solo shot in the fifth to help power the Jays to the 9-3 come-from-behind win over the Detroit TIgers.


Alek Manoah was on the bump as Toronto officially became Major League Baseball's final team to play their first home game this season. After a best and worst case scenario pair of starts for the 25-year-old, Manoah delivered what was an uncharacteristic performance that saw him facing some serious trouble in just the second inning. After surrendering a walk and a single, Manoah delivered a sinker up and in over the heart of the plate to lefty Nick Maton who became the first player to take one over the new short porch in right field.


Manoah’s struggles continued, allowing another single and a pair of walks to load the bases again, before escaping the inning and limiting the damage to just three. 


The third year big-leaguer struggled immensely with his command throughout the 94-pitch performance. He finished with five walks and surely a diminished sense of confidence in his slider and particularly his changeup – a pitch in which he threw eight times with only one being a true strike.


Despite the small-ish sample size, the Blue Jays have on various occasions this season found  themselves in a hole early – a situation in which their offence seems to relish in. 


Daulton Varsho walked to start the bottom of the frame, before Brandon Belt found a piece of grass in the outfield to put runners on first and second for a slow-starting Alejandro Kirk. Kirk, following suit from Belt, collected himself a long single off the wall in right field to bring around Varsho and put the Blue Jays on the board.


Defensively able to keep the Tigers at bay, Matt Chapman continued his early success with a 423-foot no doubter in the bottom of the fourth. Kiermaier’s homer came in the sixth with George Springer following it up with one of his own right after to give the Blue Jays the 4-3 lead. 


From there on out, it was shut down baseball. 


A reliable looking bullpen combined for six strikeouts allowing just one hit through 5 2/3 innings of work while the offence continued to add more tallies. 


Bo Bichette tested out the short porch in right centre field for his fourth long ball of the season, before Brandon Belt picked up his lone RBI of the night, scoring Varsho.


Mix in a three-run missile from Kirk, and the end result is a home opening win, and happy John Schneider. 


“That’s the good thing about the lineup we have,” said Schneider after the win. “Guys one through nine, we’re lucky enough that we’ve got some pretty good hitters throughout.”


The Blue Jays improve to 7-4 to sit third in the AL East behind the Yankees, and an unbeaten Tampa Bay Rays squad


They’ll stay here in the city as they go for game two of three against the Tigers tomorrow night. Kevin Gausman will get the nod looking to continue his run of form to his early 2023 campaign while the Tigers will respond with former Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.