The Yankees and Blue Jays face off in an important early series

When he stepped up to the plate to lead Monday’s game against the Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays center fielder George Springer was greeted with a Boise shower from the crowd at Yankee Stadium. He quickly shouted.

When he comes in to bat again in the third inning, there are more innings to follow. The result was not good for the Yankees fans this time: a two-run home run that proved crucial in a 3-0 Toronto victory.

While Springer has often been mocked for his role at the 2017 Houston Astros, a team that broke the Yankees on the way to a World Series title that is tainted by a sign-stealing scandal, the feeling between the two sides is far from clear. is the. Friendly this season.

The competitors – along with the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays – have been a division buzz throughout the season, with the three teams reaching the playoffs last year. The 92-win Yankees claimed the last American League wild card spot, which the D-91-Jets Blue Jays had been watching baseball for since October.

The chances of making the playoffs have improved this year. The Major League Baseball post-season field has been expanded to 10 of the 12 teams under a new labor contract. But the 19 showdowns between the Yankees and Blue Jays, a trendy pre-season World Series selection, are still expected to be tough, competitive and exciting.

“It’s life in the American League East,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montevio, whose team is playing its first season of the season against the Yankees, a four-game set this week. “All the teams are good. It’s going to be a war all year long. They just played Boston and they’re going to play us, and we’re going to play them, and then Boston.

Monday, the first meeting of the teams this season, is part of what could be a predicted move. The score was close. The stars shine. Groups and teams were deemed scarred.

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

“They’re a great ball club,” said Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, adding later: “They’ve got guys who hit for power, up and down at a good pace, then a good pitching staff. It’s going to be tough all year, but we’re looking forward to it.

Blue Jays can really kill. Any lineup led by shortstop Bo Bachet, right fielder Tusker Hernandez, Springer and Guerrero should be a bit quicker in scoring runs. Although without standout third baseman Matt Chapman, who was included in the off-season trade, the Blue Jays led the big leagues last season (262) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.797).

Knowing this, Toronto’s coaching staff emphasized another aspect of the team’s game, which was a weakness compared to last season: their defense. To drive home the point, the Blue Jays have made a hugely symbolic change to the traditional game of pre-game practice, getting players to first take ground balls and then kill them.

“My message was that from the beginning: pitching and defense are going to play games in this league. It’s tough to beat every day,” Montoya said, adding later: “And you want that team, or any team in the American League. , You cannot give any opportunity or other opportunity.

The Blue Jays were one of the teams that had the most wins in the second half of last season because of Beckett’s defensive improvement, Montevideo said. Bachette, who led all MLB short stops with 24 errors last season, credited the Blue Jays’ coaching staff for assistance, as well as retired short-stop Troi Tolovsky. In the off-season, Bachet spent time in Texas, furthering his fielding career with Tolotinsky, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner.

“He just kind of made it easy for me,” Bachet said. “Simple is like grabbing and throwing a ball. Play for free. To be offensive. Just being kind of allowing myself to be free has helped me a lot mentally.

The try shows against the Yankees on Monday. Starting pitcher Alek Manoah kept the Yankees in check with seven strikeouts in the innings without scoring ten. (His fast balls were faster than usual, spinning at 96 mph. “That’s just New York adrenalin,” he said.) But when Manawa started to get in some trouble with the bases-loaded jam in the third inning, Make a batch. Stellar play: He reaches far to the right to grab a Guy Carlo Stanton’s toe beetle on his right, then jumps and throws in his body for the 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 nail it to all sides of the ball,” said Bachet, who scored 298 home runs and 102 home runs. Last season “So pitching, defending, hitting, it’s not going to get done every day but the work that we’re putting in and we are determined to do is pay off.”

In the seventh inning, with Manoah out of the game, Beckett teamed up with second baseman Santiago Espanyol, ending a slow inning double play with two men on base. With a left-footed defense against Josh Donaldson, Spinell blocked a ground ball to his left and rotated around to toss Bachet, who used a 360-degree spin, then to fire the ball first after setting up the second base. Guerrero pumped his fist and cried as he fell off the ground.

“I feel like we’re just a bunch of kids going out there and giving it everything we got,” Bachet said, adding later about Yankee Stadium: “So honestly it’s anywhere we go. We feel comfortable I love playing with these people. It’s a lot of fun. “

The rise of the Blue Jays coincides with the development of young stars such as Guerrero, 23; Restlessness 24; And Hernández, 29. Bachette said the Blue Jays were always confident in their ability, so “the world is probably a little further back than we thought.” And though the bullpen was largely untapped in the winter and lost to the Blue Jays’ Robbie Ray, 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner, and second baseman to Marcus Semen free agency, Guerrero said the team was better this year because of the current and new. Ability

The Yankees themselves feel the same way. Starting pitchers Jameson Tallen, who allowed two runs in five innings on Monday, and Luis Severino are now healthier than they were last year. The lineup is more balanced and diverse in terms of skill sets than it was at the beginning of last season due to the addition of shortstop Asia Kiner-FIFA, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Donaldson.

After going 29-19 against the Blue Jays from 2018 to 2020, the Yankees had less luck last year. They were 8-11 against their opponents, but still managed to push Toronto to the last AL wild card spot.

“Every game is great,” Springer said after Monday’s victory. “We learned last year that every game is important. It’s a good start, but it’s a step forward.

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