Gurriel leads power display as Jays take opener

Rookie homers twice to extend multi-hit streak to 9 games; Stroman strong over 7 frames

July 28th, 2018

CHICAGO -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. still has some work to do defensively, but a red-hot bat is one aspect of his game that definitely appears to be Major League ready.
Gurriel homered twice and increased his multi-hit streak to nine games while tossed seven strong innings in the Blue Jays' 10-5 victory over the White Sox on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. , and also homered as Toronto went deep a season-high five times and snapped a three-game losing streak.

The multi-homer game was the first of Gurriel's career, and he moved into a tie with Tony Fernandez for the longest multi-hit streak in franchise history. Fernandez accomplished the same feat in 1986, while the previous rookie record belonged to Al Woods (seven games) in 1977.
"He's obviously on a pretty nice roll," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's doing a lot of good things. It was just a good night for our offense, and I thought Stro's stuff was really good tonight."
Gurriel has been up and down a few times this season, but he has been on fire since rejoining Toronto earlier this month. In 15 games since being promoted from Triple-A Buffalo, Gurriel is batting .410 (25-for-61) with four home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs. He entered play on Friday ranked second in the American League among rookies with a .297 average, trailing only Los Angeles' (minimum 100 plate appearances).
The Cuban native was just one of several positive storylines on Friday for the Blue Jays, who chased White Sox starter from the game in the fifth inning. Lopez allowed eight runs on seven hits and four walks, while striking out three. He allowed five home runs as the Blue Jays reached double digits in runs for the second time this month and the first time since July 13. Gurriel finished 3-for-5 during a game that also included a double.

"I feel much better. I feel more confident right now," Gurriel said through an interpreter. "Game through game I have a little bit more experience, and I learn a little bit more about the game. I feel really good right now, and hopefully it will keep going that way."
The early run support meant Stroman was able to cruise through his outing with little stress. Stroman allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk, and struck out three. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his past four starts, and appears to have turned the page on a disappointing first half of the season, which was plagued by a shoulder injury.

Stroman's outing came one day after a report from's Jon Morosi suggested that the Blue Jays and Braves had conversations about centering a possible trade around the product of New York. It's not clear how serious those preliminary talks were, but Toronto isn't expected to aggressively shop Stroman at least until the offseason. He is now 4-7 on the season with a 5.20 ERA thanks in large part to that subpar first half.
"Ever since I came back from the DL, I feel like I'm back to being myself," said Stroman, who recorded 13 outs on the ground. "When I'm myself, I'm being aggressive, I'm keeping them on the ground and I'm pitching off that sinker."
Back-to-back shots: The Blue Jays opened the game with back-to-back home runs as Granderson and Gurriel went deep on consecutive pitches. The last time Toronto started the game with consecutive home runs was May 22, 2016, when and Josh Donaldson homered in Minnesota. Granderson's 10th of the year was projected to travel 413 feet, and Gurriel's was estimated to go 369.
"I'm ready for every pitch," Gurriel said. "When I go out there, I'm ready for every pitch. First pitch, second pitch, whatever pitch comes. [Lopez] made a couple of mistakes there, and I was ready to swing."

Escaping the jam: Before the Blue Jays broke the game wide open, Stroman did a solid job of holding the White Sox in check. Chicago had multiple baserunners during the second and third innings but each time Stroman found a way to limit the damage. In the second inning, he picked up two quick outs on a double play and in the third he limited the White Sox to an RBI single by . That kept the score 5-1 and two innings later the Blue Jays were up nine.
"If I don't go at least six [innings], I consider it a disappointment," Stroman said. "Going deep into games has always been a priority of mine, and that's been something I've prided myself on in my career, and something I've been able to do."
•Gurriel is the first rookie with nine consecutive multi-hit games since Pittsburgh's Rennie Stennett in 1971.
• Lopez became the second White Sox pitcher in franchise history to allow five home runs, and the first since Eddie Lopat in 1947.
Right-hander (4-1, 4.69 ERA) will make the first start of his Major League career as the Blue Jays go with a "bullpen day" on Saturday night at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. The outing originally belonged to lefty J.A. Happ, but since he was traded to the Yankees on Thursday, Axford gets an opportunity for a career first. The White Sox will counter with right-hander (7-8, 6.09). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.