Skip to main content


Turner's two homers lead Blue Jays past Royals

Justin Turner Justin Turner - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays rested all-star shortstop Bo Bichette and key relievers Yimi Garcia and Jordan Romano weren't available, so it fell to Justin Turner to step up.

The 39-year-old designated hitter had a two-run homer in the first inning and added a solo shot in the third as Toronto held off the Kansas City Royals 6-5 on Monday. Danny Jansen also had a home run for the undermanned Blue Jays.

"It's going to be different aspects of the team that are going to get us Ws," said Turner. "Sometimes the pitching is going to carry us, sometimes we've got to score more runs than them, but that's just the nature of the game and how it goes."

Davis Schneider and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., drove in runs with base hits as Toronto (15-15) won back-to-back games.

Starter Yariel Rodriguez earned a no decision after he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits and three walks, with one strikeout over 3 2/3 innings. Genesis Cabrera (1-0), Trevor Richards, Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson and Nate Pearson came on in relief for the Blue Jays, with Pearson earning his first save of the year.

Garcia and Romano, from Markham, Ont., rested after they pitched Saturday and Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a scheduled rest day for Bichette.

"Adding on runs and the bullpen doing what they did in a short outing for Yariel, that's how you win pretty consistently," said Toronto manager John Schneider. "It's how you win series and that's how you win close games when your bullpen's short."

Kyle Isbel and Freddy Fermin each had a home run as Kansas City (17-13) dropped its third-straight game. Nelson Velazquez had an RBI double, while Isbel and Michael Massey each drove in a run with a single.

Jonathan Bowlan (0-1) gave up four runs on six hits and three walks, striking out three over 2 2/3 innings. Tyler Duffey, Angel Zerpa, Matt Sauer and Nick Anderson came out of the visitors' bullpen.

The Royals opened the scoring in the first when Velazquez's double handcuffed Blue Jays third baseman Addison Barger, allowing Bobby Witt Jr. to head home. Barger, who normally plays left field, overthrew to second allowing Velazquez to reach third.

In the next at bat, Massey hit a ground ball to Toronto shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who threw to a stretched out Guerrero at first. The Blue Jays challenged the umpire's safe call, but it was upheld to score Velazquez for a 2-0 K.C. lead.

Turner answered for Toronto in the bottom of the inning, keeping a line drive just inside the left-field foul netting to bring home Guerrero and tie the game.

Turner drilled his second homer, again to left field, to lead off the third inning. It was his fourth of the season.

Jansen hit his second homer of the season two batters later, bringing the 29,879 at Rogers Centre back to their feet and giving the Blue Jays a 4-2 advantage. Most of the fans were wearing powder blue Toronto uniforms with Jansen's name on the back as part of a free giveaway that included replicas of the catcher's distinctive white-framed glasses.

Isbel chipped away at Toronto's lead in the fourth with a single, giving Fermin time to score from second.

Maikel Garcia popped out in the next at bat for Rodriguez's second out of the inning but then he walked Witt to load the bases. That ended Rodriguez's night and brought on Cabrera, who got Vinnie Pasquantino to ground out.

The 27-year-old Rodriguez is on a limited pitch count so far in his Major League Baseball rookie season, having played professionally in his native Cuba and Japan before signing with the Blue Jays during the off-season.

"It's more about location," Rodriguez said through a translator about mixing his pitches in MLB. "I located all my pitches, pretty much, maybe using my fastball a little bit."

Schneider tacked on a run in the fifth with a bouncing single that cashed in Daulton Varsho from second for a 5-3 Blue Jays lead. It was Schneider's 12th RBI of the season, third on Toronto behind Turner (15) and Varsho (14).

Isbel once again kept the Royals in the game, wiring a line drive 406 feet for his third homer of the season.

Barger led off the sixth with a single for the first hit of his major league career. Two batters later, Guerrero banged a double off the left-centre wall to drive the rookie home and restore Toronto's two-run lead.

After Barger crossed home Turner sat with the 24-year-old rookie in the Blue Jays dugout.

"It looked like a giant weight lifted off his shoulders," said Turner. "He's been taking great at bats. He's been hitting a lot of balls hard all over the place and hadn't been rewarded yet."

It was Fermin's turn to keep Kansas City's hopes alive with a solo shot to start the eighth. His first home run of the year landed in Toronto's bullpen.

ON DECK — Jose Berríos will take his 4-1 record to the mound for Toronto on Tuesday in the second game in the Blue Jays' series with Kansas City.

Cole Ragans (1-2) gets the start for the Royals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2024.