TORONTO -- A few days away from the ballpark appears to have worked wonders for Randal Grichuk.Grichuk went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs as the Blue Jays secured an 11-3 victory over the Royals in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader at Rogers Centre. Yangervis Solarte
TORONTO -- A few days away from the ballpark appears to have worked wonders for Randal Grichuk.
Grichuk went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs as the Blue Jays secured an 11-3 victory over the Royals in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader at Rogers Centre. Yangervis Solarte also homered, while Steve Pearce, Teoscar Hernandez and Aledmys Diaz all chipped in with a pair of hits as Toronto picked up its 10th victory of the season.
The 26-year-old Grichuk entered play on Tuesday with the lowest batting average in the Major Leagues among qualified hitters. He had three hits in 42 at-bats until his outburst in Game 1, which also included a pair of runs scored. Grichuk had just one hit this month, but after the Blue Jays had three consecutive games postponed because of weather, he returned with a bang.
"It's an understatement to say that he needed that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He has been pressing big time. Grinding. That's huge. We got him for a reason. We see a lot of good things in him. You see his talent. He can be a force in baseball. The way he plays the outfield, he runs and he has got some big-time power. He definitely needed that, so hopefully he breathes a little bit easier now."
Blue Jays lefty Jaime Garcia escaped with the victory, but it was a battle for him most of the afternoon. Garcia, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday in Cleveland, gave up a lot of hard contact and left a lot of pitches up in the zone. In the third, Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda made him pay with back-to-back homers, but Garcia managed to get through five innings. He was charged with three runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five.
Royals left-hander Eric Skoglund was saddled with the loss after he allowed five runs on eight hits and a walk over five innings. Toronto broke the game wide open in the sixth inning with six runs (two earned) off reliever Blaine Boyer over one-third of an inning. Boyer retired just one batter and allowed four hits with a walk.
"No excuses, it wasn't my best stuff," Garcia said. "I really wasn't sharp at all, but at the same time it doesn't take away from my competitiveness, trying to get people out, give us a chance to win and I was able to do that today."
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Solarte slams one: Solarte made sure the Blue Jays started the doubleheader on the right foot by hitting a first-inning homer off Skoglund. According to Statcast™, Solarte's two-run shot was projected to travel 416 feet and the ball left his bat at 108 mph. Solarte has now reached base in all 13 of his games this season, which is the longest streak by a Blue Jays player to start the year since Jose Bautista had a 17-game stretch in 2016.
"We knew he had pop," Gibbons said. "He takes a rip and he's a big guy. A lot of balls in this park go a long way, too. There's something about this place. But he has big-time power."
Beating the shift: The Blue Jays were trailing, 3-2, entering the bottom of the fifth inning, when they pieced together four consecutive hits off Skoglund. Grichuk got the frame started with a double to left-center field, and a couple of batters later, Pearce drove him in with an RBI single. Justin Smoak and Solarte later followed with ground-ball singles to the right side of the infield. Normally, the grounders would have resulted in easy putouts, but with the Royals' infield shifted to the left side, both balls got through for hits.
"I think if you want to have a good year, everybody has got to contribute," Gibbons said. "Some of the good teams we've had around here, that's the same thing that happened. Really since the start of the season, different guys are doing different things … We feel pretty good wherever we're at in the lineup."
The Blue Jays reached the 10-win plateau after their 15th game of the season. Last year, Toronto did not reach 10 wins until the 29th game. After Game 1, the Blue Jays have a 9-3 (.750) record in April. Toronto's best winning percentage for April came in 1992 with a 16-7 (.696) record. This season marks the seventh time in franchise history the Blue Jays opened a season 10-5.
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Grichuk's three-run homer left his bat at 114.1 mph, which is the hardest-hit homer by a Blue Jays player since the start of Statcast™ in 2015. It topped a 113.5-mph home run by Josh Donaldson on Sept. 17, 2017.
Added as the 26th man for Tuesday's doubleheader, right-hander Joe Biagini will make his first start of the season in Game 2 vs. the Royals. He competed for a job in Spring Training but was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo at the end of camp. Biagini made one appearance for the Bisons and allowed one unearned run over five innings.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.