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DRAMATIC – Teoscar, Gurriel Guerrero Jr, Espinal lead Toronto to victory

They finally returned for opening day, and to a packed house, at the time, the upstart Toronto Blue Jays harnessed their potent offense for the biggest season-opening comeback in more than seven decades.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. doubled in the seventh inning and the Blue Jays erased a seven-run deficit to beat the Texas Rangers 10-8 on Friday night.

“We never panic,” Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez said. “We know what we are capable of and we trust each other.”

For the first time since the pandemic, a crowd of 45,022 turned out to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Jays in Toronto. They erupted when a video review ruled that Hernandez beat catcher Mitch Garver’s tag at the plate on Gurriel’s double, putting Toronto ahead 9-8 after trailing 7-0.

“I felt like I got my feet into home plate and he tagged me on top, but I was very close,” Hernandez said. “I couldn’t tell. Luckily I made it to safety. There’s no better time in a game like that.”

Even though shortstop Corey Seager’s relief pitch beat Hernandez to the plate, Rangers manager Chris Woodward didn’t blame Garver for not getting the tag more quickly.

“If he had attacked that ball, it might have been a tough jumper to catch, so he secured the baseball first,” Woodward said. “It was an inch, out or safe. I thought he did a good job.”

The last team to win its first game after trailing by at least seven runs was the 1950 New York Yankees, who fell 9-0 and then beat Boston 15-10 at Fenway Park, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only other team to overcome a seven-run deficit in its season-opening game was the 1901 Detroit Tigers, who erased a 10-run gap to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 14-13.

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Blue Jays right-hander Adam Cimber (1-0) pitched a game-winning inning despite allowing Adolis Garcia’s tying homer in the seventh. Yimi Garcia worked the eighth and Jordan Romano finished for his first save.

Gurriel’s game-winning hit came from Rangers right-hander Dennis Santana (0-1), who allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings.

Hernandez hit a three-run homer off right-hander Josh Sborz in the fifth and Danny Jansen gave the Blue Jays some safety with a solo shot off right-hander Greg Holland in the eighth.

The Rangers chased right-hander José Berríos in the first, scoring four runs before Toronto’s No. 1 starter could record his second out, then added two more runs in the second against left-hander Tayler Saucedo on Toronto’s two-run homer. Garver.

Berríos retired just one of the seven batters he faced, allowing four runs on three hits, including Brad Miller’s home run. Berrios walked two and struck out none. He threw 34 pitches, 18 strikes, in the shortest outing of his career.

“I was trying to be too perfect, like too obnoxious, and I didn’t throw the ball over home plate,” Berrios said.

Nataniel Lowe’s RBI single off Trent Thornton in the fourth gave Texas a 7-0 lead. Toronto scored three runs off right-hander Jon Gray in the fourth and tied it on Hernandez’s two-out homer.

Making his Rangers debut after seven seasons with Colorado, Gray gave up three runs, all earned, in four innings before leaving after a blister broke open on his middle finger.

“I blame myself for not covering it up or doing something about it,” Gray said. “I understand. I don’t want it to get any worse. I’d hate to miss the next start. I totally understand going out there.”

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Santiago Espinal gave Toronto an 8-7 lead on Sborz’s RBI double in the sixth.

Awards

Before the game, former Blue Jays infielder and current Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien and Guerrero and Hernandez received their 2021 Silver Slugger Awards. Semien also earned his Gold Glove, while Guerrero received his Hank Aaron Award from Billye Aaron, the widow of the late Hall of Fame slugger.

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