When the Blue Jays acquired Steven Matz from the Mets in late January, it looked like a move that could help to solidify the back end of their rotation. He has bigger ideas.
Matz was dominant again in Saturday afternoon’s 5-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning. It wouldn’t have been an official no-hitter, given that it was just a seven-inning game, but Matz was on a roll from the very first pitch and moved to 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA on the season.
With injuries piling up and the Blue Jays already searching for answers in their rotation, Matz has been one of the club’s best stories in April.
As Matz mowed through the Royals, Toronto put together five runs on eight hits, combining some of the usual suspects with big hits from players the team needs to see more from, like Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Gurriel doubled home the first two runs of the game with a deep shot to left-center field that nearly cleared the wall in the first inning. It was Gurriel’s first extra-base hit of the season, and coming off a slow start, this was an encouraging sign of life from a hitter who should be part of this lineup’s core.
When you combine the 2019-20 seasons, Gurriel hit .289 with 31 home runs and an .874 OPS over 141 games. That’s close to a full season of everyday reps, but since Gurriel hasn’t appeared in more than 84 games in a single season to this point in his career, he doesn’t have the counting stats to hold up as a representation of his offensive game. Still, the talent is clearly there, and when the Blue Jays get George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez back in their lineup, Gurriel’s bat will help to lengthen its power.
Jonathan Davis chipped in his first home run of the season, a solo shot, but it wouldn’t be a Blue Jays game in 2021 without Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stealing the show. In the sixth, Guerrero turned on a Mike Minor fastball and launched it over the wall in left field. Even though the ball hit off the end of Guerrero’s bat and didn’t sound pure, it still traveled a projected 400 feet, according to Statcast, for Guerrero’s fourth of the season.