Blue Jays ride big bats early in win vs. Rangers

Pearce's leadoff, Andrus' 3-run shot push Toronto to series win

April 8th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- Steve Pearce settled into the batter's box on Sunday for his first plate appearance with the mindset of getting after Rangers starter Cole Hamels right away. The last thing the Blue Jays' left fielder wanted was for Hamels to get in any sort of early groove.

When it came time to swing, Pearce wasted little time, hammering the first pitch he saw deep over the left-field wall for his first career leadoff home run. That, along with ' three-run drive four batters later, set the tone in Toronto's 7-4 victory at Globe Life Park.

It was Pearce's second homer in as many games. He also belted a solo shot in the sixth inning of Toronto's 5-1 loss Saturday.

"You don't want to wait around with him, because he has the stuff that puts you away," Pearce said of Hamels, who has allowed five homers in 16 innings this season. "You want to attack him early. That was the mindset and that's what I did."

Hamels worked 5 1/3 innings and yielded seven runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks. The loss left the right-hander 0-5 with a 6.54 ERA in eight career starts, including three in the postseason, against the Blue Jays.

Toronto starter held the Rangers to three runs in 5 1/3 innings to earn his first win. He had a 7-1 lead going into the sixth before his day ended on a one-out double by , followed by a two-run homer from Joey Gallo.

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A throwing error by shortstop set up two unearned runs for the Blue Jays in the sixth. had a one-out RBI double, and drove him in with a two-out single.

"Top to bottom, we've been getting good production, for the most part, from everybody -- some big hits along the way, even the guys that aren't really swinging the bat well yet," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We feel good about that."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Balk it out: Toronto's reached first base to open the sixth on a throwing error by Andrus, and things quickly went from bad to worse for the Rangers. After Hamels fanned , he was called for a balk, giving the speedy Pillar a free base. Pillar then scored on Maile's double to chase Hamels from the game.

Tepera shuts off rally: The Rangers' best chance of overcoming the Blue Jays came in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out and Beltre and Gallo due up. But reliever struck out Beltre, getting him to chase on a 3-2 slider outside. Gallo then popped out to end the threat.

QUOTABLE

"I was a little hard on myself on that one, because I don't think I've ever given up a homer by a lefty on the changeup, and if I ever do, I've got to go with my stuff."

-- Garcia, a lefty, on giving up a long homer to the left-handed-hitting Gallo on an 82-mph changeup

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Pearce's blast was the 15th first-pitch home run by a Toronto player in franchise history.

WHAT'S NEXT

J.A. Happ will get the nod on Monday when the Blue Jays head to Baltimore to continue their early nine-game road trip at Camden Yards at 7:05 p.m. ET. The left-hander (1-1, 5.40 ERA) yielded four earned runs on seven hits and struck out nine over 5 1/3 innings of work in his last outing against the White Sox on Tuesday.

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