The Toronto Blue Jays looked more like the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on Thursday as manager John Gibbons gave his talented group of September callups an opportunity to play at the Major League level.
First baseman Rowdy Tellez had three doubles and drove in a run in his second career game as the Blue Jays fell to the Cleveland Indians 9-4. Despite the lopsided loss, there was a positive air in Toronto’s clubhouse with many of the team’s prospects showing glimpses of their potential.
Watch highlights from Tellez’s stellar performance in the Jays’ loss:
“Pretty much played with half of these guys at some point,” said Tellez, craning his neck over assembled media to scan locker nameplates around the clubhouse. “I mean, I played with all of them at spring training or elsewhere in the minors. Pretty much everybody here.”
Tellez, who made his debut as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning of a 10-3 win over Tampa on Wednesday, became the first player to have an extra-base hit in his first three plate appearances since Major League Baseball’s live-ball era began in 1920.
“It still doesn’t feel real being here,” said Tellez, who was unaware of his record-setting performance. “Childhood dreams are achieved and it’s a great feeling. I’m ecstatic to be here.”
Folks, we have <a href=”https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MLB</a> HISTORY! <br><br>Rowdy is the FIRST player in the live-ball era to record extra-base hits in EACH of his first THREE plate appearances! <a href=”https://t.co/pETP4olJZo”>pic.twitter.com/pETP4olJZo</a>
Cleveland removes Chief Wahoo logo
Francisco Lindor had a pair of solo home runs and added a tie-breaking RBI single to lead the Indians (80-60).
The team removed its controversial Chief Wahoo logo for the series opener, taking the caricature of a First Nations man off the left sleeve of its jerseys and wearing hats with a red C on a navy blue field instead. Cleveland plans to stop using the logo for the 2019 season.
Jason Kipnis added a late three-run bomb to back starter Shane Bieber (9-3), who allowed four runs — three earned — and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings. Relievers Tyler Olson, Alan Cimber, Cody Allen and Dan Otero didn’t allow a run the rest of the way.
Sam Gaviglio (3-8) threw 4 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays (63-77), striking out four but giving up five runs on six hits. Jose Fernandez, Justin Shafer, Danny Barnes, David Paulino and Mark Leiter Jr., came out of Toronto’s bullpen.
Shafer allowed one unearned run in his inning of relief and Leiter gave up Kipnis’s three-run homer in the ninth.
McGuire impresses in MLB debut
Teoscar Hernandez added an RBI double for Toronto, while catcher Reese McGuire made his MLB debut, hitting a double in the ninth inning. He also made an impressive defensive play in the fourth when he picked off Jose Ramirez from his knees as Cleveland’s third baseman tried to steal second.
“I knew Ramirez was a good runner on the bases, so he’s going to be a threat,” said McGuire. “Gaviglio did a good job of holding him [to first base] and had a pretty quick delivery to the plate so it gave me a chance to throw him out on the slider.”
Lindor led off the first with a home run then struck again in the third, putting the ball just out of the reach of Blue Jays right-fielder Billy McKinney to make it 2-0.
Tellez hit his third double in as many at bats to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr. the fourth inning. Hernandez then banged the ball off the wall in centre field to bring home Kendrys Morales and Tellez.
Aledmys Diaz followed that up two batters later, stroking a ball up the first-base line to score Hernandez and make it 4-2.
Opportunity for Jays callups
Gibbons wants the Jays callups to make the most of their time in the big leagues and use it to push themselves in the off-season.
“First you hope that they have some success, and I think they all will,” said Gibbons. “I think they’re all off to a good start, no doubt about it. I just want this to be a good experience for them.
“Whether they start in the minors, whatever it is, it will be a good experience they can take with them. Maybe they can take some things with them to work on.”
Cleveland came right back in the fifth when Brandon Guyer’s double cashed in a run and Lindor’s single scored two more. Allen added to that in the sixth inning, doubling in a run to make it 6-4. Kipnis smashed a three-run homer in the ninth for the game’s final score.