Split and Sweep: Blue Jays Beat Team Canada and the New York Yankees

Samad Taylor

Both sides of the Toronto Blue Jays’ split squads accomplished their task on Saturday with the main group of major leaguers beating the New York Yankees in Tampa while a group of mostly minor leaguers beat the Canadian Junior National Team with a few Canadian Blue Jays looking on.

In the “real fake game,” as Mike Wilner called it, the Blue Jays came back from a 3-0 deficit with strong work by the bullpen against the Yankees with runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth inning to put it away. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had the biggest thump, hitting a home run and going 3/3 with two RBI and a run.

Someone (I can’t find the Tweet now) wrote that the Blue Jays’ minor leaguers are better than the Yankees’ minor leaguers and that became apparent as the Jays made a late surge. Subbing in for Gurriel at second base was Samad Taylor who actually gave the Blue Jays a two-run lead, driving in a pair on a bases-loaded single (with a third run coming in on a throwing error) in the top of the seventh. Taylor added a walk in the ninth. In the ninth inning, Brandon Grudzielanek brought in two runs on a sacrifice fly to give the Jays their 7-3 lead which would turn out to the be the final score. Cal Stevenson had a loud double and scored twice while Rodrigo Orozco was 1/1 with a walk and two runs. Of the Jays’ starters, Kevin Pillar, Freddy Galvis and Luke Maile were each 1/3 with Maile adding a walk.

With pitching roster spots coming available daily, the four pitchers all made an impression. Trent Thornton gave up a three-run home run in the first inning but settled in with 3 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and two walks and four strikeouts. Javy Guerra allowed a hit and a walk in 1 1/3 innings, striking out two. Elvis Luciano had probably his best outing, striking out two and walking one with a hit in two full innings and Jason Adam, recently acquired, struck out five batters (of lower calibre than the Yankees’ big league team) and gave up two hits to earn the save.

Demi Orimoloye

The Blue Jays had just two Canadians in the lineup as they took on the Canadian Junior National Team, coming out with an 8-3 win. Demi Orimoloye, from the Ottawa area, was 0/2 with a walk, a stolen base and two runs while Tanner Kirwer, from Alberta, was 1/3 with a double, a walk, two runs, an RBI, two runs and a stolen base. Reggie Pruitt also walked twice, relieving Billy McKinney after one at bat and scored twice, stealing a base. Danny Jansen was 1/1 in his only at bat and Alejandro Kirk was 1/2 with a double, a walk, two RBI and a run. Hagen Danner, DHing rather than catching, was 1/1 with an RBI and Jordan Groshans, playing both third and shortstop, was 1/4. Kacy Clemens drove in a pair and walked twice, giving him a perfect day, going 1/1 and Bo BIchette was 1/1 with a walk, a stolen base, an RBI and a run.

On the mound, the Blue Jays started Danny Barnes, who went one inning, giving up a walk and striking out one. Andrew Sopko got the win, going four innings with five hits and two runs against but six strikeouts and Joey Murray allowed a solo home run but that was the only hit he gave up and he walked two with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Josh Hiatt pitched the final out, getting a strikeout and giving up a hit. While they weren’t scheduled to pitch, Canadians Brayden Bouchey and Will McAffer were also on the lineup sheet.

In the Blue Jays’ final game of the Grapefruit League, they’ll travel to Lakeland to play the Tigers with Sean Reid-Foley on the mound.

Notes: The walking wounded list grows as Dalton Pompey is on the MLB concussion protocol and Ryan Borucki is going to miss at least one start. Bud Norris seems good to go and he’s going to throw tomorrow (Sunday).

The Blue Jays will probably use the series in Montreal against the Milwaukee Brewers as an audition for pitchers, giving one start to Sam Gaviglio and one to Thomas Pannone.

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