Yankees and Blue Jays face off on Crucial’s early series

As he stepped to the plate to lead Monday’s game against the Yankees, Toronto Blue Central Player Jace George Springer was greeted with a shower of boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd. He pointed immediately.

When he stood up again to burst into the third inning, more booing followed. The result this time was no better for Yankees fans: a home run with two runs, which proved to be key to the 3-0 victory in Toronto.

While Springer was heavily ridiculed for his role in the Houston Astros in 2017, a team that toppled the Yankees on their way to the World Series title, which has since been tainted by a character theft scandal, the feeling between the two countries isn’t exactly friendly. season.

Rivals – along with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Race – will fight throughout the season in a division in which three teams reached the playoffs last year. The Yankees with 92 wins won the last place with a wild card in the American League, which left the Blue Jays with 91 wins to watch baseball in October from home.

The chances of entering the playoffs have improved this year. The post-season field of Major League Baseball has been expanded to 12 teams out of 10 under the new employment agreement. But the 19 clashes between the Yankees and the Blue Jays, a fashionable choice for the pre-season World Series, are still expected to be tense, competitive and exciting.

“This is life in the American League East,” said Blue Jace manager Charlie Montoyo, whose team is playing its first series of the season against the Yankees in a four-game set this week. “All the teams are good. It will be a battle all year round. They just played with Boston and they will play with us, and we will play with them and then with Boston. ”

Monday, the first meeting of the teams this season, offered a preview of what may lie ahead. The result was close. The stars were shining. The audience and the teams understood the bet.

“They have talent, just like us,” said Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., a runner-up for last season’s Most Valuable Player award. “But obviously you have to go out on the field and do your best.”

“They’re a great ball club,” said Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, adding later: “They have guys who hit for strength, have good speed up and down, and then great targeting staff. They will be difficult all year round, but we are looking forward to it. “

Blue Jays can really hit. Each team, led by short stopper Bo Bischet, right-back Teoscar Hernandez, Springer and Guerrero, should have no problem scoring. Even without the outstanding third baseman Matt Chapman, who was added to off-season trading, the Blue Jays led the big championships in home run (262) and on a plus-plus basis (.797) last season.

Knowing this, the Toronto coaching staff emphasized another aspect of the team’s game that was sometimes a weakness last season: its defense. To bring it to the point, the Blue Jays made a largely symbolic change to the traditional pre-game training order, forcing players to take ground balls first and then work on their shots.

“My message was that from the very beginning: Passing and defending will win matches in this league. It’s hard to hit every day, “said Montoyo, adding later:” And you can’t give this team, or any team in the American League, any chance – or a second chance. “

The Blue Jays were one of the teams with the most wins in the second half of last season, in part because of Bishet’s improvement in defense, Montoyo said. Bichet, who led all MLB short stops with 24 errors last season, acknowledged the coaching staff of the Blue Jays as well as retired Troy Tulowicki. In the off-season, Bichette spent time in Texas, further intensifying his game with Tulowicki, a two-time Golden Glove winner.

“He just made it easy for me,” Bischet said. “It’s just like catching the ball and throwing. Play for free. Be aggressive. Just being able to be mentally free there helped me a lot. “

Efforts showed against the Yankees on Monday. Starting pitcher Alec Manoa kept the Yankees in chess with seven outs for six unsuccessful innings. (His fast balls were tic faster than usual, often hitting 96 miles per hour. “It’s just adrenaline in New York,” he said.) But when Manoa ran into trouble in the third inning with a jam full of basics , Bischet made a stellar game: He moved far to the right to catch Giancarlo Stanton’s broken bat in a snare, then jumped and threw himself over his body for a third out.

“We learned a lot last year that if we want to win the World Series and be a champion team, we have to be nails on all sides of the ball,” said Bishet, who hit .298 with 29 home runs and 102 shots. last season. “So the application, the protection, the strikes, will not be perfect every day, but the work we do and the commitment we have to it definitely pays off.”

In the seventh inning, after Manoah was out of the game, Bichette teamed up with second baseman Santiago Espinal to turn the double game at the end of the inning with two men at base. After the defense shifted to the left against Josh Donaldson, Espinal stopped a ball on the left and spun to throw it at Bishet, who used a 360-degree rotation after touching second base to shoot the ball to the first. Guerrero clenched his fist and shouted as he ran off the field.

“I feel like we’re just a group of kids who go out there and do their best,” Bischet said, later adding to Yankee Stadium. “So, frankly, we just feel comfortable wherever we are. I love playing with these guys. It is very funny.”

The rise of the Blue Jays to prominence in the last two years coincided with the development of young stars such as Guerrero, 23; Bishet 24; and Hernandez, 29. Bishet said the Blue Jays have always been confident in their potential, so “the world is probably a little behind what we thought.” And although the coat was largely untouched in the winter and the Blue Jays lost Robbie Ray, winner of the 2021 AL Cy Young Award, and second baseman Marcus Semien of a free agency, Guerrero said the team is better this year because of existing and new talent.

The Yankees feel the same way about themselves. Starting pitches Jameson Tylon, who allowed two runs over five innings on Monday, and Luis Severino are healthier now than last year. The squad is more balanced and diverse in terms of skill sets than at the beginning of last season, due to the addition of short stop Isaiah Keener-Falefa, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Donaldson.

After beating 29-19 against the Blue Jays from 2018 to 2020, the Yankees were less fortunate last year. They were 8-11 against their rivals, but still managed to overtake Toronto for the last place with a wild card in AL.

“Every game is huge,” Springer said after Monday’s victory. “Last year we learned that every game matters. It’s a good start, but it has a long way to go. “

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