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Dodgers rout Blue Jays; Ohtani homers in first Toronto game since free-agency snub

Los Angeles Dodgers Shohei Ohtani - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Blue Jays fans got a taste of what Shohei Ohtani could do if he played in Toronto, but Friday's lopsided loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers likely soured the already bitter taste in their mouths.

Ohtani smashed a homer in the first inning as boos rained down on him and Los Angeles went on to rout Toronto 12-2 on Friday, months after the Japanese superstar turned down a lucrative free-agent offer from the Blue Jays.

"I really do feel that the fans here are passionate and when they are, that’s the kind of reception that they’ll probably do," said Ohtani, who was booed by the sold-out Rogers Centre crowd of 39,688 every time he came to the plate. "I’m just very grateful and respectful that fans here are passionate, just as much as the Dodger fans are with us."

Toronto was in the running to sign Ohtani in the off-season but the highly prized free agent ultimately chose the Dodgers, signing a 10-year, US$700 million contract on Dec. 11. It is the largest contract in professional sports history.

"Aside from how the fans may or may not think, I’m just very grateful for the teams that approached me and wanted to sign me," said Ohtani. "As I said in my press conference before, ultimately I could only choose one team."

Ohtani was unfazed by the jeers, crushing his seventh home run of the season on an 83.2 m.p.h. slider from Blue Jays starter Chris Bassitt 360 feet.

“After he homered, the guys in the dugout booed him as well,” said L.A. manager Dave Roberts. “That was pretty funny. He got a big kick out of that."

Max Muncy's three-run homer was part of a six-run third inning as Los Angeles (17-11) won its fifth straight. Will Smith had a home run, an RBI double, and a sacrifice fly as the Dodgers racked up 19 hits.

Muncy, Freddie Freeman, Gavin Lux and Mookie Betts drove in runs with base hits and Andy Pages added a sacrifice fly for the final run of the game.

Gavin Stone (2-1) allowed just two hits over seven innings, allowing a run and striking out two. Nick Ramirez threw two scoreless innings of relief.

Danny Jansen had a home run in the fourth inning as Toronto (13-14) absorbed its fourth consecutive loss. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in another run with a ground out in the eighth.

Bassitt (2-4) floundered through 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits and three walks, striking out four. His earned-run average ballooned from 3.90 to 5.64 in the brief start.

A terse Bassitt spoke a total of 18 words in response to four questions from reporters.

"Adjustments gotta be made," said Bassitt.

Trevor Richards, Brendon Little, Nate Pearson, Tim Mayza and Erik Swanson came out of the bullpen before third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa moved to the mound to finish out the game and spare a pitcher's arm.

"You gotta give credit to Izzy for doing that," said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. "That's not fun for a position player to do."

The Dodgers feasted on a third-inning rally to build an impressive lead.

Freeman's single scored Betts from second and advanced Ohtani to second. Smith's hit then scored Ohtani and moved Freeman to third.

Muncy's towering home run followed, clearing the bases with no outs. His fifth of the year was launched at a 42 degree angle with an exit velocity of 107.6 m.p.h., travelling 366 feet.

Former Blue Jay Teoscar Hernandez singled for L.A.'s seventh consecutive batter to reach base, but Bassitt then fanned James Outman and induced a Pages flyout. Lux's base hit drove in Hernandez as the Dodgers went through their entire batting order in the inning and built a 7-0 lead.

Smith kept L.A. rolling in the fourth inning with his second home run of the year. His line drive came on an 80 m.p.h. change-up from Richards.

Jansen answered for Toronto and brought Toronto's fans back to life in the fourth with his first homer of the year. He worked Stone to a full count before taking a 93.8 m.p.h. sinker to deep left field.

The Blue Jays catcher missed the start of the season with a broken hand.

Betts drove in another run for Los Angeles in the fifth, doubling home Pages.

Muncy cashed in Smith an inning later and then Pages's sacrifice fly gave Muncy ample time to trot home for an 11-1 Dodgers lead.

Toronto cut into that sizable advantage when Guerrero grounded out to shortstop Miguel Rojas, who chose to throw to first instead of home, allowing Cavan Biggio to cross the plate.

Smith added one more run in the ninth with his sac fly off Kiner-Falefa, scoring Rojas.

ON DECK — Yusei Kikuchi (2-1) will get the start for the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

The Dodgers will counter with Tyler Glasnow (4-1).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.