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Granderson launches walk-off homer vs. Kimbrel

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' first series of the year against the Red Sox is going to be used as a measuring stick to see how they match up with arguably the top team in the American League East. Curtis Granderson and J.A. Happ made sure they passed the first test with flying colors.

Granderson threw out the potential go-ahead run in top of the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Blue Jays overcame Roberto Osuna's first blown save of the year in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' first series of the year against the Red Sox is going to be used as a measuring stick to see how they match up with arguably the top team in the American League East. Curtis Granderson and J.A. Happ made sure they passed the first test with flying colors.

Granderson threw out the potential go-ahead run in top of the ninth inning and then hit a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Blue Jays overcame Roberto Osuna's first blown save of the year in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

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Happ came away with a no-decision, but he played a big role in the win by limiting Boston's offense to one run over seven strong innings.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson gets doused twice after walk-off

"I'm trying to just do anything I can to help the team win and put ourselves in an opportunity to win," said Granderson, who has eight RBIs over his last five games. "Starting in right, starting in center, starting in left, trying to get on base, I'm just trying to do the little things, because this team has such a great ability to come up in big situations."

It was the fourth walk-off home run of Granderson's career, and it came on a 2-0 fastball from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. Toronto picked up its second walk-off victory of the year and improved to 2-0 in extra-innings games this season. Granderson went 3-for-5 with his third home run of the season.

Tuesday's game marked the first of 18 games between the two clubs. The Red Sox, along with the Yankees, have long been considered the favorites in the division, but the Blue Jays have been turning a few heads with their early season play. The victory in the series opener ensured that Toronto will finish March/April with at least a .500 record, something that hasn't happened since 2012.

Video: BOS@TOR: Gibbons on Happ's outing, win in extras

One win might not seem like much, but it's a symbolic victory for a Blue Jays team that entered this game having lost eight consecutive games to Boston at Rogers Centre. Last season, Toronto was outscored 107-75 by the Red Sox, and its -32 run differential vs. the Sox was the organization's lowest since posting a -51 against the Rays in 2012. Something has to change if the Blue Jays are going to be taken seriously in the division, and Tuesday was a good start.

Video: Must C Clutch: Granderson belts a walk-off home run

Happ never had multiple baserunners at any point during his fifth start of the year. He frequently used his four-seam fastball up in the zone to generate swings-and-misses from the Red Sox as he picked up double-digit strikeouts for the first time since Aug. 2, 2017, vs. the White Sox. The 35-year-old averaged 92.7 mph with the four seamer while mixing in his slider and curveball combo 20 times in his strongest outing of the year.

"We remember that they've played well here, so it's nice to set the tone and get that first one here," Happ said. "I think it's something that's going to be a battle all season long. I think these are two really good ballclubs and that we'll see a lot of games pretty tight like this one."

Video: BOS@TOR: Happ strikes out 10 over seven innings

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can't close it out: Osuna got himself into all sorts of trouble in the top of the ninth inning. Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers singled to put runners on first and second with one out while Eduardo Nunez followed with an RBI single. Later in the frame, Boston loaded the bases as Brock Holt delivered the game-tying run with an RBI single to left field. It could have been a lot worse, but Granderson saved the day by throwing out Nunez at the plate on Holt's RBI single, which eventually forced extra innings. Osuna picked up his first blown save of the year in seven attempts and also surrendered his first earned runs of the season.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson makes a run-saving throw in 9th

"That's the way baseball is sometimes," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I think that was Osuna's and Kimbrel's first runs they've given up all year. That's why you call it the big leagues … The guys battled. That was a big game for us. If you don't win that one, it's a kick in the teeth."

The fortunate bounce: The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when they had runners on the corners and Boston third baseman Devers was unable to field a grounder and make a throw home in time to get a sliding Steve Pearce. Later in the frame, Devers was put under the spotlight once again with a pair of runners on base. This time, Granderson hit a hard grounder that deflected off Devers' glove to allow two more runs to score.

Video: BOS@TOR: Granderson plates two with a single to left

SOUND SMART
Over the previous five years, Toronto had the worst March/April record in the Major Leagues, going 52-75 (.409). A year ago, the Blue Jays did not pick up their 14th victory until Game No. 35 on May 11. This season, they reached 14 wins in Game No. 24 on April 24.

HE SAID IT
"I think the city is hurting right now and we had some first responders here today. I hope they enjoyed the game, if they stayed until the end, which I think they did. I think it was a meaningful win for us on several levels." -- Happ, when asked about the importance of winning the series opener as he referenced Monday's tragic events in Toronto that saw multiple casualties following an attack involving a white van

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Blue Jays were in a perfect position add another insurance run when Teoscar Hernandez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. With a runner on second, Hernandez hit a sharp liner to right field that appeared destined for extra bases, but Mookie Betts had other ideas. According to Statcast™, Betts covered 53 feet in 3.5 seconds to make a four-star grab that came with a catch probability of 31 percent. Yangervis Solarte followed by lining out to second base and the Blue Jays came up empty in the fifth.

Video: BOS@TOR: Statcast™ measures Betts' four-star grab

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will continue their three-game series against the Red Sox when Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Sanchez has experienced a dip in velocity so far this season. In 2017, he averaged 95.0 mph on his two-seam fastball, but in a recent outing against the Yankees, that number dropped to 92.8. The velocity has not impacted his performance with three quality starts in four outings. Boston will counter with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0, 3.45 ERA).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Curtis Granderson, J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna

Bichette, Smith among prospect performers

A's No. 2 impresses in Double-A debut
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Tuesday.

Jesus Luzardo allowed two runs on two hits in the first inning of his Double-A debut but was nearly untouchable the rest of the way, completing five strong innings of three-hit ball as Midland edged Corpus Christi, 3-2.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Tuesday.

Jesus Luzardo allowed two runs on two hits in the first inning of his Double-A debut but was nearly untouchable the rest of the way, completing five strong innings of three-hit ball as Midland edged Corpus Christi, 3-2.

Luzardo, Oakland's No. 2 prospect (No. 60 overall), struck out the side in the second inning before finishing with five strikeouts and one walk. He also induced a handful of ground-ball outs in the performance, throwing 45 of his 78 pitches for strikes.

Luzardo's promotion to the Texas League in the first month of the season was the latest in what has been a series of quick promotions for the 20-year-old left-hander.

Luzardo fans fifth batter of day

A third-round pick by the Nationals in 2016 despite having undergone Tommy John surgery a few months prior, Luzardo received a well-above-slot bonus to forgo his Miami commitment. He made his highly anticipated pro debut nearly a year later and dazzled in a trio of Rookie-level Gulf Coast League starts before joining the A's at the July Trade Deadline in the deal that netted Washington Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Luzardo continued to impress following the trade, too, pitching to a 1.82 ERA with 33 strikeouts and a .194 BAA in 29 2/3 innings (nine starts) between the Rookie-level Arizona and the Class A Short Season New York-Penn Leagues.

Luzardo's performance convinced the A's that the precocious sophomore was ready for a greater challenge, as he made just three starts in the hitter-friendly Class A Advanced California League -- posting a 1.23 ERA, a .120 opponents' average and a 25-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 2/3 innings -- before a bump up to Double-A.

With his latest debut behind him, Luzardo now boasts a 1.71 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP across his first 63 innings as a professional. He's racked up 78 strikeouts against 11 walks in that span, while limiting opposing hitters to a .193 average and zero home runs.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Tuesday

No. 8 overall prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres' No. 1) hit solo home runs in the sixth and ninth innings to account for both runs in Double-A San Antonio's 5-2 loss against Frisco. It marked the second career multi-homer game for the 19-year-old shortstop, who now has gone deep three times in 18 games for the Missions. He's batting an even .200 on the season.

Tatis Jr. slams solo homer

No. 13 overall prospect Bo Bichette (Blue Jays' No. 2) went home-to-third twice for Double-A New Hampshire in his first career two-triple game. He also scored a pair of runs in the contest before finishing 2-for-5. The 20-year-old shortstop is batting .296/.375/.428 on the season, with hits in 13 of 16 games for the Fisher Cats. Jonathan Davis (No. 28) led off the game with a home run, his first of the season, and drove in three in the 9-4 victory over Binghamton.

Bichette smacks second triple

Angels No. 9 prospect Matt Thaiss tallied three extra-base hits but ultimately fell a home run short of the cycle, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a triple in Double-A Mobile's win over Mississippi. Thaiss matched his career high with the four hits and improved his batting average by 40 points, from .250 to .290, in the process. The 2016 first-rounder has 12 runs, 14 RBIs and seven extra-base hits in 17 games this season.

Thaiss hits game's second double

Tigers No. 10 prospect Christin Stewart blasted his third home run in his first multi-hit game of the year to help lead Triple-A Toledo past Pawtucket. He also doubled and hit a pair of singles to finish 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs. The 24-year-old outfielder is slashing .250/.370/.450 through 17 games after hitting .256/.335/.501 with 28 homers last season over 136 Double-A contests.

Stewart slugs home run

No. 79 overall prospect Stephen Gonsalves (Twins' No. 3) tossed five innings of one-run ball en route to his third win in four starts for Double-A Chattanooga. The 23-year-old recorded a season-high nine of his 15 outs via the strikeout while scattering four hits with two walks and throwing 60 of his 91 pitches for strikes. Gonsalves has pitched to a 1.77 ERA, with 25 strikeouts and 10 walks, while limiting batters to seven hits in 20 1/3 innings.

No. 59 overall prospect Alex Faedo's fourth career start was his longest. The Tigers' No. 3 prospect completed 6 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts for Class A Advanced Lakeland in a no-decision against Dunedin. Faedo, the No. 18 overall pick in last year's Draft, has worked at least five innings in all four starts, posting a 2.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and one walk over 23 innings in that span.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers

Blue Jays No. 19 prospect Kevin Smith went 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and five RBIs, leading Class A Lansing past Dayton, 7-0. The homer, a three-run shot in the third inning, was Smith's second of the season and snapped a seven-game extra-base hit drought. The 2017 fourth-rounder is batting .286 overall with 17 RBIs, 10 runs and five steals through 15 games.

Braves No. 16 prospect Dustin Peterson's first home run of the season was a grand slam that proved the difference in Triple-A Gwinnett's 5-2 win against Rochester. He finished the contest with three hits and four RBIs, both season highs for the 23-year-old outfielder.

Cubs No. 28 prospect Cory Abbott was sharp for Class A South Bend in Game 1 of a doubleheader, tossing seven strong innings during which he allowed two hits -- including a solo home run -- and struck out six. The 22-year-old righty, Chicago's second-round pick in 2017, has given up three hits in his past two starts and owns a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings (three starts) on the season.

Marlins No. 11 prospect Brian Miller enjoyed a six-hit day as Class A Advanced Jupiter split a doubleheader with Palm Beach. The 22-year-old center fielder collected four hits in the opener for the second time in four games, going 4-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases, and then added two more knocks, as well as two RBIs, in the nightcap. Overall, Miller improved his average from .313 to .360 with the 6-for-8 performance.

Angels No. 29 prospect Joe Gatto, a 22-year-old right-hander, allowed one hit over six innings in his second straight scoreless start for Class A Advanced Inland Empire. Throwing 47 of his 78 pitches for strikes, Gatto posted five strikeouts against two walks and induced 10 ground-ball outs. He's now kept his opponent out of the run column in three of four starts in the California League. Overall, Gatto has pitched to a 2.37 ERA with 25 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 innings.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Inbox: Will Gurriel stay on the roster for '18?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from fans
MLB.com @gregorMLB

What are the Blue Jays going to do when Josh Donaldson returns? Will they find a way to keep Lourdes Gurriel Jr.?
-- Phil K., Thunder Bay, Ontario

Gurriel had an impressive debut, but he's still the likeliest candidate to be sent down. Donaldson's return would slide Yangervis Solarte back into a super utility role, but there will be no shortage of playing time at second base, shortstop and third. Solarte's defense at shortstop is still a concern, and the club has used him there just once this season, but he's an option whenever fly-ball pitcher Marco Estrada is on the mound.

What are the Blue Jays going to do when Josh Donaldson returns? Will they find a way to keep Lourdes Gurriel Jr.?
-- Phil K., Thunder Bay, Ontario

Gurriel had an impressive debut, but he's still the likeliest candidate to be sent down. Donaldson's return would slide Yangervis Solarte back into a super utility role, but there will be no shortage of playing time at second base, shortstop and third. Solarte's defense at shortstop is still a concern, and the club has used him there just once this season, but he's an option whenever fly-ball pitcher Marco Estrada is on the mound.

Even if Donaldson requires at least semi-regular starts at DH, the Blue Jays should be able to make this configuration work. It limits the versatility of the roster, but Russell Martin's ability to play third -- or even second base in an emergency situation -- helps protect against in-game injuries. Gurriel is a nice fit, but he should be playing every day, and if that's not going to happen in the Majors, he should be sent down when Donaldson is back.

:: Submit a question to the Blue Jays Inbox ::

Is it time to put Devon Travis to the Minors and give Gurriel second base?
-- Justin C., Toronto

This seems to be a popular question this week -- and it's understandable because Travis is batting .140 with a .218 on-base percentage -- but I still don't think it's time for type of move. Travis' struggles would be more concerning if he had not been down this road before. Last year, Travis hit .130 in April and then enjoyed the best month of his career with a 1.019 OPS and 20 extra-base hits. It's reasonable to expect another turnaround because the bat is simply too good to be mired in that type of slump for much longer. If he's still not hitting in a couple of weeks then it's probably time to have that conversation, but the upside is far too high to rush things.

John Gibbons always leaves his starters in for too long. Look at Saturday's game against the Yankees. Marcus Stroman was obviously tired, Gibbons left him in too long and a winnable game turned into a blowout. What is he thinking
-- Derek T., Hamilton, Ontario

Gibbons has no choice but to force the issue a little bit with his rotation. The bullpen has been an early strength, but it lacks versatility, and until the Blue Jays add a long reliever, that's going to be a problem. The club has been attempting to extend the outings of John Axford and Danny Barnes, but this relief corps is filled with one-inning specialists. If a starter gets knocked out early there will be repercussions for days and that's why Gibbons' hands are tied. The rotation ranks sixth in the American League with 117 innings and 12th with a 5.23 ERA. Simply put, it needs to be better.

With the starters being forced to pitch extra innings because the bullpen lacks a long man would there be any additional thought toward moving Joe Biagini back to the 'pen at some point?
-- Corey B., Sparwood, British Columbia

Ideally yes, but that's easier said than done because the Blue Jays have the same problem they did at the end of Spring Training. The only relievers with options remaining are Ryan Tepera and Barnes and neither one deserves a demotion. Tepera is the primary setup man to Roberto Osuna and Barnes has allowed just one run over 11 2/3 innings. The only way to get a long reliever onto the roster is by parting ways with either Seung Hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, Axford or Aaron Loup.

Loup is the longest-tenured Blue Jay, but he doesn't have a defined role. He's the lone lefty, yet he rarely comes in to face a left-handed batter in high-leverage situations and has been mostly relegated to pitching when the score is out of hand. The Blue Jays probably don't want to lose him, but they may have no choice but to take a long-hard look at this situation. My pick for long relief would be Luis Santos, which would allow Biagini to continue starting in the Minors.

What are they going to do with Randal Grichuk if he continues to scuffle?
-- Rick B., Raleigh, N.C.

Teoscar Hernandez is playing so well right now that he needs to be in the lineup every day. He's a streaky hitter and there's a good chance his bat will eventually cool off, but Hernandez deserves the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. In an ideal world, Grichuk would be sent to the Minors, but he's out of options so that can't happen. For now, he's destined to see a lot of time on the bench.

The Blue Jays currently have five outfielders, plus a full-time DH in Kendrys Morales. At some point, one of those players has to go because the configuration is not sustainable. Exploring the trade market for Steve Pearce is one option, eating the contract of Morales is another and a last resort might be cutting ties with Grichuk altogether. Expect the club to delay this decision as long as possible, which means Grichuk on the bench with a five-man outfield should be expected for awhile.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Biagini, Josh Donaldson, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Yangervis Solarte, Devon Travis

Bats quiet in Blue Jays' first series loss

MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- It was bound to happen at some point, but the Blue Jays have finally lost their first series of the year.

Toronto's strong start to the season hit a speed bump in the Bronx as the Blue Jays dropped three of four to see their record fall to 13-8. The latest setback occurred Sunday afternoon when lefty Jaime Garcia was charged with four runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Yankees.

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NEW YORK -- It was bound to happen at some point, but the Blue Jays have finally lost their first series of the year.

Toronto's strong start to the season hit a speed bump in the Bronx as the Blue Jays dropped three of four to see their record fall to 13-8. The latest setback occurred Sunday afternoon when lefty Jaime Garcia was charged with four runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Yankees.

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The loss meant the Blue Jays were unable to remain undefeated through their first seven series, which last happened in 1992. Toronto won its first World Series that year and went 5-0-2 in the first seven series, while the current squad dropped to 5-1-1. New York's victory also ensured the Blue Jays would not start the year with at least 14 wins in 21 games for the first time since 2009.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gibbons on Garcia's start, lack of offense

"We did have some opportunities, not so much today, but the first three games," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They get some guys who can strike quick. But you know, hey, we hung in there today. [Luis] Severino, it was Severino's day today. You put up a lead for him, he's probably going to shut it down and go late into the game."

One of the main reasons behind the defeats has been Toronto's lack of offense. The lineup has been the Blue Jays' biggest strength during the early stages of 2018, but it combined to score just two runs on seven hits during the final two games in New York. The Blue Jays are a perfect 12-0 when scoring four or more runs this season, but they are 1-8 when scoring three or fewer. Toronto finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the series finale, though Severino and his seven strong innings with six strikeouts deserves the majority of the credit for that.

Video: TOR@NYY: Garcia gets a double play, escapes trouble

Garcia got himself into a lot of trouble in the first and second innings before he settled in and found a groove. In the first, Garcia surrendered a solo homer to Didi Gregorius, and in the second, he yielded a two-run double to Austin Romine. That was all the damage Garcia would allow until he departed in the bottom of the sixth with one out and runners on the corners.

"I feel, personally, I didn't get the job done today," said Garcia, who remains winless in four career starts at Yankee Stadium. "I take a lot of pride in that. I felt good today, I knew this would be a tough challenge against a good lineup, good team. Just a couple of pitches, three pitches pretty much, cost me the game, just got to do a better job than that."

Video: TOR@NYY: Smoak rips a double to the wall

Teoscar Hernandez was one of the only bright spots on offense for the Blue Jays, as he finished 2-for-4 with a home run and a double. It was just the second time this month Toronto's offense has been limited to one run, and both games have come over the past two days. The Blue Jays' record following a loss also dropped to 5-2, which snapped a previous five-game winning streak under those circumstances.

Toronto has now lost five of its past six road series at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays are 5-6 against the American League East this season, compared to 8-2 against the rest of the league. Last year, Toronto went 33-43 within the division, which was the worst among the five AL East teams.

"You know, we've been [playing] really well, really well lately," Garcia said. "The guys are swinging really amazing, the bullpen has been unbelievable and we as starting pitchers, we feel like we're going to take off. We believe in ourselves, we just got stay focused on the process, continue to compete, continue to give us a chance to win and in the long term, things will go that way."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hernandez does it again: Hernandez continued to stake his claim to a starting job in the outfield with a solo homer in the top of the sixth inning. According to Statcast™, Hernandez's third home run of the season was projected to travel 408 feet and it left his bat at 106 mph. This marked just the third hit of the day surrendered by Severino, and while Justin Smoak followed with a walk, he was quickly erased on a double-play grounder off the bat of Yangervis Solarte.

Video: TOR@NYY: Hernandez belts a towering drive to left

"He's a really good pitcher, he's got pretty good pitches and we tried to go out there and get one pitch," Hernandez said of Severino. "Those guys don't miss a lot, you just get one or two chances to put good contact on it. We're going to keep battling, keep playing the way we've been playing, keep playing hard and next series, we'll get better results."

The add-on run: The Blue Jays had some renewed hope following Hernandez's home run in the sixth, but that proved to be short-lived. In the bottom half of the inning, Miguel Andujar hit an RBI double over the head of Kevin Pillar in center field. The double came off reliever Seung Hwan Oh, but it was charged to Garcia, who departed with runners on the corners and one out.

Video: TOR@NYY: Andujar doubles to center, plates Sanchez

"My goal is to make pitches until they take me off the mound and keep us in the ball game," Garcia said. "Today I knew it was going to be against a good team, but like I said, I gotta do a better job than that next time."

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays are 5-11 in their past 16 games at Yankee Stadium after going 11-3 in the previous 14.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Yankees and the crowd thought Tyler Austin had an infield hit in the eighth inning Sunday, but first-base umpire Ted Barrett called him out. The Yankees asked for a replay review, believing shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr.'s throw had pulled first baseman Smoak off the bag. After review, the call was allowed to stand, causing Yankees manager Aaron Boone to raise his arms in the air and bringing loud boos from Yankees fans who believed the replay they saw showed Smoak's foot off the bag.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gurriel Jr. nabs Austin despite challenge

"He showed really good range, under control," Gibbons said of Gurriel. "The fans didn't like it. They didn't like the outcome, but I think they got it right."

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will enjoy a day off on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. Left-hander J.A. Happ will take the mound in the series opener, facing Rick Porcello, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Happ is fanning more batters than ever. He has eight strikeouts in each of his past three starts and is averaging 12.7 K's per nine innings. He has never averaged double-digit strikeouts over the course of a full season.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jaime Garcia, Teoscar Hernandez

Blue Jays prank Gurriel Jr. after first hit

Blue Jays fans got a taste of the future during Friday's 8-5 victory over the Yankees. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. came up to the bigs and collected two hits and drove in three runs -- which was exactly the margin of victory, so Gurriel has already made an impact. 

But Gurriel's teammates decided to have a little fun with the new rookie. Gurriel's first career hit came in the fourth inning, when he laced a two-run single. As the Blue Jays Instagram pointed out, that's a baseball to save: 

These are the Top 30 international prospects

MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

Long before Louis Eljaua rose to special assistant to the president and general manager of the Cubs, he was the young and energetic top international scout for the Marlins. Back then, his boss was Al Avila, now the general manager for the Tigers.

Eljaua vividly recalls a conversation with Avila in 1998 like it happened yesterday. Each time he tells the story of that famous call, he puts his right thumb to his ear and talks into his right pinkie like it's the old hotel phone he used.

Long before Louis Eljaua rose to special assistant to the president and general manager of the Cubs, he was the young and energetic top international scout for the Marlins. Back then, his boss was Al Avila, now the general manager for the Tigers.

Eljaua vividly recalls a conversation with Avila in 1998 like it happened yesterday. Each time he tells the story of that famous call, he puts his right thumb to his ear and talks into his right pinkie like it's the old hotel phone he used.

Top 30 International Prospects list

"I found the guy, Al! I found the guy our owner was looking for. He's 15. Come to Venezuela," Eljaua shrieked through the phone.

Avila, who was in Miami at the time, was not pleased to hear the news. The Marlins had never spent more than $30,000 on an international teen.

Top International Prospects

"Are you crazy, Louis? [Owner] John Henry gives us money and you are going to spend it all on your first trip and the first kid you see? Are you trying to get us all fired? What is wrong with you?"

"I know, I know," Eljaua answered. "Just come see the kid. He's good. You won't be sorry."

That kid was Miguel Cabrera. And less than a year later, the teenager signed with the Marlins for $1.8 million to launch his future Hall of Fame career and forever set the standard for international teenage prospects.

The hunt for the next Cabrera continues, and each year an increasing number of prospects sign when the international signing period begins on July 2; hundreds more will join Major League organizations later this summer.

Led by catcher Diego Cartaya -- who like Cabrera is from Maracay, Venezuela -- the players on MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 30 International Prospects list represent the greatest young talent from across the globe eligible to sign on July 2.

The ultimate goal is nabbing a baseball unicorn like Cabrera. But signing a horse like Cartaya, a hard-hitting catcher with advanced skills, or other emerging international prospects also offer teams options.

Video: Top International Prospects: Diego Cartaya, C

Remember, the Cubs traded top teen Gleyber Torres of Venezuela to the Yankees as part of a deal for Aroldis Chapman in 2016, and the rest is World Series history. Last year, they traded the Dominican Republic's Eloy Jimenez to the White Sox in a deal for Jose Quintana. Both are the top prospects in their organizations. Back in '16, the Red Sox traded Yoan Moncada in a package to the White Sox for pitcher Chris Sale. The A's acquired Franklin Barreto from the Blue Jays in a deal for third baseman Josh Donaldson in '14.

"If you are not investing time and money and effort to sign international players, you are missing out on making your organization one of the best in the game," Eljaua said. "Why would you ignore a market and just focus on one or two ways to acquire talent when these guys are going to play in your system, hopefully in the big leagues, or be a part of a package that helps you fill a missing piece? And it's not all about the money and paying the most money. It's about scouting and working and finding out about makeup and helping your entire system."

Who is signing whom
More than 950 prospects have signed during the international signing period that started July 2, 2017, and that number could increase during the 2018-19 period, because there are thousands who have registered to become eligible.

In addition to prospects from traditional baseball hot spots like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and the Bahamas, there are also prospects from places like Europe, the Caribbean islands and Asia who have also registered.

Video: Top International Prospects: Marco Luciano, OF

As far as the list is concerned, the Dodgers are the favorites to sign Cartaya. Marco Luciano, a power-hitting outfielder from the Dominican Republic, a close second behind Cartaya in the rankings, is linked to the Giants. Outfielder Misael Urbina of Venezuela, who is ranked No. 3, is an advanced hitter expected to have an above-average hit tool and plus speed. He is linked to the Twins. Rounding out the top five is Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Richard Gallardo, linked to the Cubs, and Orelvis Martinez, a power-hitting shortstop from the D.R. sometimes compared to a young Adrian Beltre. The Blue Jays are the favorite to sign Martinez.

Video: Richard Gallardo named top int'l pitching prospect

Breakdown
This year's Top 30 International Prospects list includes 10 players from Venezuela, 16 from the Dominican Republic, three from Cuba and one from Colombia. The positions break down like this: 11 outfielders, eight infielders, seven pitchers and four catchers.

The best athletes at premium positions are the most appealing to international scouts. Three of the top 13 are catchers and three of the top 10 are pitchers. Shortstops and center fielders are also highly coveted in this year's class.

International signing rules, spending
There are specific guidelines for signing prospects like Cartaya: An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between July 2 through June 15 of the next year if he is 17 or will turn 17 by the end of the first season of his contract.

Video: Cartaya tops MLB's international prospects list

The rules for signing international prospects are these: Clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft receive a pool of $6,025,400, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive $5,504,500. All other clubs receive $4,983,500.

International amateur free agency & bonus pool money explained

Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 75 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.

In terms of spending, the Blue Jays, Brewers, D-backs, Mariners, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Tigers, Twins and Yankees are expected to be aggressive in the upcoming signing period. The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals -- teams that will no longer be in the penalty for exceeding their past international bonus pool spending -- are also expected to be very active.

The A's, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds and White Sox are in the maximum penalty, so they cannot sign players for more than $300,000 during the upcoming period.

"We are all looking for the next Miguel Cabrera, but I think it's unfair to compare anybody to him because he was just on another level," Eljaua said. "But the reality is, my old team already paid me for that sign. I'm getting paid to find another one. That's what the job is."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Stroman struggles to contain slugging Yanks

MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- Marcus Stroman was enjoying his best start of the season, an outing that was supposed to alter his course in what has been a disappointing start to the year. Then it all came crashing down in the sixth inning.

New York jumped on Stroman in the seven-run frame, aided by some shoddy defense, and it resulted in the Blue Jays' 9-1 loss on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Toronto picked up its second defeat in three games, and it is in danger of losing its first series of the year when the four-game set wraps up on Sunday afternoon.

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NEW YORK -- Marcus Stroman was enjoying his best start of the season, an outing that was supposed to alter his course in what has been a disappointing start to the year. Then it all came crashing down in the sixth inning.

New York jumped on Stroman in the seven-run frame, aided by some shoddy defense, and it resulted in the Blue Jays' 9-1 loss on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Toronto picked up its second defeat in three games, and it is in danger of losing its first series of the year when the four-game set wraps up on Sunday afternoon.

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Stroman allowed eight runs, six earned, on five hits and four walks while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings. His ERA now sits at 8.55 with an 0-2 record through four starts. Stroman's biggest issue has been his lack of command, with 14 walks over 20 innings, compared to 2.8 walks per nine innings last season, which at the time was a career high.

Video: TOR@NYY: Stroman fans Torreyes to retire the side

"There have been spurts where I kind of lose command," Stroman admitted after the game. "Where I have too much action on my sinker and I'm throwing it down, down, down, where I kind of can't pinpoint it. Just release point, working on a few things. I'm not worried about it. I can take the positives from this, and when I was dominant, I was rolling. So it's just a matter of doing that inning, after inning, after inning."

Despite the ugly pitching line, Stroman is correct in suggesting there was a time earlier in the day when he was cruising through the Yankees' lineup. His only real issue through the first five innings came on a poorly located sinker to Aaron Judge, who picked up his sixth home run of the year with a no-doubter to left.

Thanks in large part to Stroman, the Blue Jays entered the bottom of the sixth trailing by just one run, but that's when the wheels fell off. Stroman allowed the first four batters to reach base, on two hits and a pair of walks, before catcher Luke Maile dropped an easy catch at home for what should have been a forceout. Miguel Andujar followed a couple of batters later with a three-run double to left-center field, which chased Stroman from the game.

Video: TOR@NYY: Judge safe at home on Maile's missed catch

Toronto's offense didn't do Stroman any favors when the score was still manageable. The Blue Jays missed a slew of scoring opportunities off left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery, and they finished the day 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base. Montgomery allowed one run on four hits over six innings while striking out five.

The lack of run support has been an issue for Stroman over the first three weeks of the season. The Blue Jays have scored just six runs when he has been on the mound, but considering Toronto has opened the year ranked second in the American League in runs, the more pressing issue is Stroman's control -- or lack thereof.

"Just need to figure it out," said Stroman, who has allowed at least four runs in each of his four starts. "I have it in spurts, then I just completely lose it at times. It's frustrating, but I'll do everything in my power. I'll kill myself [working hard] before I continue to go out there like this. I know that with my work ethic, I'm going to get back to where I need to be, hopefully soon."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed opportunity: The Blue Jays had a perfect chance to open the scoring in the top of the third when they loaded the bases with one out. Teoscar Hernandez quickly fell behind 0-2, but he eventually worked the count full before striking out on a low curveball. Yangervis Solarte then stepped to the plate with a chance to drive in at least a couple of runs, but he hit a weak popup to short as the inning came to a close.

Video: TOR@NYY: Montgomery ends bases-loaded threat in 3rd

"We had some guys on base, we just couldn't cash in at all," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Really, we've been getting guys on base all series."

Missed location: Stroman's first mistake came in the bottom of the third following a two-out walk to Brett Gardner. Stroman tossed three consecutive balls to Judge before he attempted a get-me-over sinker. Maile was looking for the fastball on the outside corner, but instead, Stroman threw it right down the middle and Judge did not miss it. The slugger hit the ball a projected 443 feet for his sixth home run of the season as New York picked up a lead it would not relinquish.

Video: TOR@NYY: Judge crushes two-run home run on 3-0 pitch

"I felt like I was rolling," Stroman said. "I made one bad pitch, it was a 3-0 pitch to Judge that kind of leaked back over the plate, he hammered. Other than that, through those first five, felt great and to just completely lose command, it's very frustrating. But like I said, I'm going to figure this out and be back to being dominant and going deep into games."

SOUND SMART
Toronto has lost all five starts that Stroman has made at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2016. He's 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA (11 earned runs across 17 innings) in the Bronx during that span.

The Blue Jays are 1-7 when scoring three runs or fewer this season and a perfect 12-0 when scoring at least four. The one run on Saturday ties the lowest output of the season for Toronto.

Video: TOR@NYY: Pearce plates Grichuk with single to left

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will wrap up their four-game series against the Yankees when lefty Jaime Garcia takes the mound in Sunday's finale, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET against the Yanks' Luis Severino. Garcia will get the opportunity to face his former team, as he made eight starts for New York last season and has a 2.20 ERA in three career appearances at Yankee Stadium. He has completed six innings just once for Toronto so far this season.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman

Travis day to day with sore left foot

Second baseman out of lineup vs. Yankees; Smoak receives first day off
MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- Second baseman Devon Travis was held out of the Blue Jays' lineup again on Saturday afternoon because of a sore left foot.

Travis remains day to day while prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup for the second consecutive day. Travis fouled a ball off his foot during Thursday night's loss to the Yankees, and while he remained in the game, he has since been sidelined.

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NEW YORK -- Second baseman Devon Travis was held out of the Blue Jays' lineup again on Saturday afternoon because of a sore left foot.

Travis remains day to day while prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup for the second consecutive day. Travis fouled a ball off his foot during Thursday night's loss to the Yankees, and while he remained in the game, he has since been sidelined.

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"He's feeling better," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who would not comment on whether Travis was available off the bench.

Video: TOR@NYY: Toronto broadcast on Gurriel Jr.'s routine

Travis' absence opened the door for the Blue Jays to reward Gurriel for his impressive debut. Gurriel became the fourth player in franchise history to record at least three RBIs in his debut, joining Pat Borders (1988), Eric Hinske (2002) and J.P. Arencibia ('10).

Gurriel went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI singles during Friday night's 8-5 victory. He was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire earlier that day, and he is expected to see time at second whenever Travis is out of the lineup. He also may be used occasionally at shortstop or third base.

"Somebody gets a couple of knocks, drives in some runs, it's tough not to play them," Gibbons said.

Day off for Smoak

Blue Jays slugger Justin Smoak received his first day off on Saturday afternoon. Smoak had appeared in all 19 of Toronto's games this season prior to the matinee affair against the Yankees. The 31-year-old is batting .233/.352/.384 with two homers and 12 RBIs.

"Isn't everyone allowed to have a day off?" Gibbons jokingly asked during a morning scrum with reporters.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Justin Smoak, Devon Travis

Blue Jays flex their muscles in Bronx

Hernandez, Solarte go deep; Gurriel has 3 RBIs in debut
MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays' lineup was supposed to be one of the club's biggest weaknesses. Instead, it's turning out to be a major strength and it's all happening while Josh Donaldson remains on the disabled list.

Toronto's offense stole the show again on Friday night as Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte each homered while Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in three runs during his Major League debut. The end result was an 8-5 victory over the Yankees for a Blue Jays team that has now won five of its last six to move seven games above .500 (13-6).

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NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays' lineup was supposed to be one of the club's biggest weaknesses. Instead, it's turning out to be a major strength and it's all happening while Josh Donaldson remains on the disabled list.

Toronto's offense stole the show again on Friday night as Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte each homered while Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in three runs during his Major League debut. The end result was an 8-5 victory over the Yankees for a Blue Jays team that has now won five of its last six to move seven games above .500 (13-6).

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The Blue Jays are scoring more runs per game (6.0) than any team in the American League except for the Red Sox (6.4 entering play Friday night). That has been good enough for a second-place spot in the AL East and early possession of an AL Wild Card spot. On the road, Toronto is 6-3 to start the year and has been outscoring its opponents 47-34.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gurriel Jr. plates three runs in MLB debut

"You need to hit home runs, there's no doubt about that, and we have a lot of guys who can do that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But there comes a time when a cheap little single is just as good and easier to do. I like the way we're approaching everything, and I also like our aggressiveness. It comes down to talent, and we're throwing out some pretty good talent on the field, too."

The Blue Jays have scored at least seven runs in nine of their 19 games this season. All of this from a team that finished last in the AL last year in runs scored and has been without Donaldson since April 10 because of a right shoulder injury. A lot of people expected Toronto's offense to be better this season, but few expected the start of the year to go quite this well.

Video: TOR@NYY: Solarte crushes a solo homer to right-center

The depth of the Blue Jays' roster has been one of the main reasons behind the turnaround. Solarte has five homers and a .996 OPS in 17 games. Curtis Granderson has taken over the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers and is batting .319 with a .971 OPS. Kevin Pillar is batting .319 with eight extra-base hits. Some regression should be expected, but for a team that has gotten very little so far out of Donaldson and Justin Smoak, there's also optimism that the current production will continue.

Time will tell, but the way the Blue Jays are playing right now, opposing pitchers have to be concerned with the entire lineup, one through nine, and can no longer focus on just the heart of the order. That wasn't the case a year ago.

Video: TOR@NYY: Estrada strikes out Gregorius on a foul tip

"I know a lot of people weren't expecting it and they're proving everybody wrong right now," Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada said. "You look at our lineup and it's a great contrast of different types of players, and I think we're putting it all together right now. We have a lot of guys who can hit homers. We have guys who go the other way and try to move guys over. I think we're doing the little things right, right now, and we have to keep doing them."

Estrada picked up the win thanks to that lineup after he allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four. Tyler Austin, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar all took him deep, and Estrada has now surrendered six home runs in four starts this season. Three of those home runs have come from Austin, who also went deep twice in one game off Estrada earlier in the year.

Video: TOR@NYY: Stanton drills a two-run home run to right

Yankees starter Sonny Gray had an equally rough night on the mound, but his outing did not last as long. Gray could not pitch his way out of the fourth inning and was charged with five runs on five hits and a problematic four walks over 3 1/3 innings. The loss went to Yankees reliever Domingo German, who allowed two runs and also walked four over 1 2/3 innings.

"He battled," Gibbons said of Estrada. "A couple of the balls they hit home runs on, I didn't think they were bad pitches, but they did what good hitters do. You shoot them the other way and take advantage of a short porch."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The debut: Gurriel was recalled from Double-A New Hampshire earlier in the day to make his Major League debut, and it didn't take very long for his presence to be felt. In his second at-bat of the night, Gurriel picked up the first big league hit with a seeing-eye single up the middle, which scored a pair of runs. That wasn't the last the Yankees saw of Gurriel, as he returned to the plate in the fifth and added another RBI single. Gurriel became the fourth Blue Jays player in franchise history to record at least three RBIs in their debut, and he's the first since J.P. Arencibia in 2010.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gurriel Jr. plates two with first MLB hit

"It was amazing," Gurriel said through a translator after the game. "It was unbelievable, something I will never forget. … I was just trying to do what my brothers and my dad told me before, to just go out there and have fun. My teammates made it easier on me, too. They've treated me really well since I got here." More >

Manufacturing runs: The Blue Jays and Yankees combined to hit five home runs, but it was Toronto's ability to manufacture some runs that proved to be the difference maker. With the game tied at 5 in the fifth, the Blue Jays pushed a couple of big runs across the plate. The inning started with a walk, followed by a weak opposite-field single against the shift by Kendrys Morales and another walk to load the bases with one out. Gurriel came through with his second RBI single of the game and then Hernandez followed with a bases-loaded walk to give Toronto a much-needed insurance run.

Video: TOR@NYY: Hernandez drives in run on bases-loaded walk

SOUND SMART
Roberto Osuna tossed a scoreless ninth inning to pick up save No. 101 for his career. That broke a tie with Billy Koch for third place on Toronto's all-time saves list.

Video: TOR@NYY: Osuna K's Judge to earn save, seal win

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will continue their four-game series against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon when right-hander Marcus Stroman takes the mound with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. Stroman has been uncharacteristically wild during his first three starts of the season with 10 walks over 14 2/3 innings, and for his career, he has averaged just 2.5 walks per nine innings. The Yankees will start left-hander Jordan Montgomery.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Marco Estrada, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Yangervis Solarte

'Happy to get the call,' Lourdes notches 3 RBIs

MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- First game for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and he's already making headlines.

Gurriel became the fourth player in Blue Jays history to record at least three RBIs in his Major League debut. He finished 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and played a big role in the Blue Jays' 8-5 victory over the Yankees on Friday night.

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NEW YORK -- First game for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and he's already making headlines.

Gurriel became the fourth player in Blue Jays history to record at least three RBIs in his Major League debut. He finished 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and played a big role in the Blue Jays' 8-5 victory over the Yankees on Friday night.

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The 24-year-old hit a two-run single in the fourth inning and added another RBI single in the fifth to cap an impressive night at the plate. Add in a few effortless routine plays at second base and overall it was a game that Gurriel will not forget any time soon.

"I was just happy to get the call and be here, whatever the situation was," Gurriel said through a translator after the game. "But, of course, I was pretty happy to know that I was playing right away. They told me as soon as they called me that I was going to play. I'm just happy to be here and thank God everything went well."

Video: TOR@NYY: Gurriel Jr. plates three runs in MLB debut

Gurriel received the promotion after he hit .347 (17-for-49) with five extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in 12 games for Double-A New Hampshire. He is expected to at least partially split time at second base with Devon Travis while also serving as the primary backup to Aledmys Diaz at shortstop and possibly even some time at third base.

The ability to move all over the field is one of Gurriel's biggest strengths, but the Blue Jays signed him to a seven-year contract worth $22 million because of his bat. Gurriel struggled most of last year in the Minors, his first season as a professional after leaving Cuba, but the hope is this year will be different after having fully adjusted to his environments.

Gurriel turned some heads in Spring Training with a strong showing, and he has picked up right where he left off in the regular season. It's too early to say whether Gurriel is here to stay, or whether he is a short-term fix until Josh Donaldson returns from the disabled list, but either way he's going to enjoy moments like the ones he experienced Friday night.

Tweet from @BlueJays: Is this REALLY happening? 😮Give @yunitogurriel 3 RBI in his @MLB debut! pic.twitter.com/6tZAIqOLgo

"Yankee Stadium, it was a good crowd out there, and the nerves, he was probably feeling them but he wasn't showing it," Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada said. "He looked comfortable and he hit tough pitches. They made tough pitches on him and he found a way. It's impressive to see someone that young go out there and look comfortable the way he did."

Gurriel also became the 18th Blue Jays player in franchise history to register multiple hits during his big league debut. The three other players who picked up at least three RBIs in their debut were Pat Borders (five RBIs on April 6, 1988), Eric Hinske (three RBIs on April 1, 2002) and Arencibia (three RBIs on Aug. 7, 2010).

"I'll tell you what, it's a thrill for me, more of a thrill for him, he got to the big leagues and he did it the right way," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "A couple of big hits. Especially that second one, two strikes, shot the ball the other way. I was very impressed and I know he's excited."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Blue Jays activate Morales ... and keep Teoscar

Toronto also promotes Gurriel after optioning Ngoepe, Mayza
MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- The emergence of Teoscar Hernandez has prompted the Blue Jays to make a flurry of roster moves to ensure he will receive a lot of playing time in the outfield.

Toronto activated Kendrys Morales from the disabled list prior to Friday's 8-5 win over the Yankees, but instead of sending Hernandez back to the Minors -- as was initially expected last week -- the Blue Jays optioned infielder Gift Ngoepe and lefty reliever Tim Mayza to Triple-A Buffalo. The moves also made room to promote Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from Double-A New Hampshire.

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NEW YORK -- The emergence of Teoscar Hernandez has prompted the Blue Jays to make a flurry of roster moves to ensure he will receive a lot of playing time in the outfield.

Toronto activated Kendrys Morales from the disabled list prior to Friday's 8-5 win over the Yankees, but instead of sending Hernandez back to the Minors -- as was initially expected last week -- the Blue Jays optioned infielder Gift Ngoepe and lefty reliever Tim Mayza to Triple-A Buffalo. The moves also made room to promote Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from Double-A New Hampshire.

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Gurriel made an instant impact, as he notched two singles and three RBIs in his big league debut. Hernandez stayed hot, too, as he roped a two-run homer in the third inning.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gurriel Jr. plates three runs in MLB debut

The Blue Jays' decision to keep Hernandez on the big league squad means the club has five outfielders on the 25-man roster. Randal Grichuk, who has just five hits in 57 at-bats this season and is out of options, is expected to be mostly relegated to the bench, at least until Hernandez's bat cools off.

"I think we'd be crazy not to have him in there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hernandez, who entered play on Friday with five extra-base hits in five games. "He has given us good at-bats, good production. ... He's really locked in, but he has a ton of talent too."

The configuration of the roster is not sustainable over the long haul, but it buys the Blue Jays time until Josh Donaldson returns from the DL, which won't happen until next week at the earliest.

If Hernandez continues to hit at this rate, then it will be impossible to send him back to the Minors. If his production slows down, or someone gets hurt before Donaldson returns, Grichuk could re-enter the fold. Grichuk needs to remain on the active roster or be placed on waivers. Curtis Granderson, Kevin Pillar and Steve Pearce are the other outfielders on the roster.

"We do have a little logjam," Gibbons admitted. "We'll make sure they all play. It's not ideal, but we'll make sure they all get something in there. I think that's important, because they're swinging it."

Gurriel was in the lineup on Friday night, and alongside shortstop Aledmys Diaz, he helped form an all-Cuban middle infield for the Blue Jays. Gurriel is expected to see most of his playing time at second base whenever Devon Travis needs a day off. Gurriel also becomes the primary backup at shortstop behind Diaz and could occasionally play third base. Travis' availability for Friday night's game was uncertain after he fouled a ball off his left foot in Thursday night's loss to New York.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gurriel Jr. plates two with first MLB hit

The promotion of Gurriel gives the Blue Jays a superior option off the bench after Ngoepe struggled during a brief stint in Toronto. Ngoepe had just one hit and struck out 12 times in 18 at-bats. Gurriel hit .347 (17-for-49) with five extra-base hits in 12 games for Double-A New Hampshire prior to joining the Blue Jays.

Gurriel could be sent down to the Minors when Donaldson returns. But that move would leave the Blue Jays with just one backup infielder, and Donaldson and Travis likely will require at least semi-regular rest from defensive duties to protect against injuries. It's another short-term fix the Blue Jays could explore when the time comes on a roster that suddenly has quite a bit of versatility.

"It was incredible. I was really happy about the call," Gurriel said through a translator. "I'm just grateful and happy for the team to make that call and thank God that I'm here today. ... It's a dream come true, coming to Yankee Stadium. Walking into the [clubhouse], looking at the guys, looking at you guys here, it's just a dream come true."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Tim Mayza, Kendrys Morales, Gift Ngoepe