On and off the court, Springer sets the tone for the Blue Jays
TORONTO — He couldn’t have done it without the help of an ill-advised dive from Steven Souza Jr., but George Springer’s last moment of impact for the Toronto Blue Jays came on a 71 blooper, 5 mph that turned into a 220-foot triple.
In 12.95 seconds, the centre-back was expected to move from home to third as Alejandro Kirk, Matt Chapman and Santiago Espinal each raced past him, giving Jose Berrios the margin he needed in a 3-0 win over the Mariners of Seattle Tuesday night. .
Their efforts led the Blue Jays to straight victories for the first since April 30-May 1 against Houston, earning a series win over the Astros before what turned out to be a grueling 2-8 streak. They have now won three of their last four games and while Berrios’ best outing of the season bodes well for the right-handed ace and the club, it should be noted how crucial Springer’s presence has been throughout. recent difficulties.
Recall that just a week ago, after a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees capping a disappointing two-game sweep in the Bronx, it was Springer who called a team meeting when ‘he ‘read the room a bit'” and “I thought it was a good time”. The essence of his message was both to take the game slow and have some urgency, to adapt to a league that is right for them, and to understand that things would turn around if they embraced the fight and stayed in it. themselves.
What difference those words make will be determined by the weeks to come, but the fact that he called the meeting on his own is a testament to his value beyond performance on the pitch. No one else on the list is in a position to make such a gesture and it speaks to the extraordinary burden he carries.
“The batsmen are starting to get better,” Springer said of the team’s earnings since. “It’s about baby steps. You can’t just make a splash. Next guy and next guy. You’re not just going to bring everybody home, but you start seeing hits drop. And again once is a long year, but it’s about staying in the moment, starting to slow things down and we’re starting to do that.
The fact that those words come from experience lends weight to Springer’s voice, because while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have similar expectations, they’re only 23 and 24, still developing, and can’t. do it all as they battle through the sport’s unforgiving learning curve. .
With few other veteran position players of stature on the roster, that means Springer had to not only deliver on the court, but also pour into his teammates.
“He means a lot,” Berrios said. “The way he is in the clubhouse, over there (on the pitch). He always plays hard. He gives 100% every time. We see it and we have to follow it into the game.
Chapman added: “George is a guy that everyone looks up to, looks up to. …He sets the tone for our team and when he’s doing well, we’re all fired up.
All of that makes him particularly essential because, quite simply, there’s a lot to do beyond just putting numbers together, and that’s not even taking into account the ankle injury he suffered at the Tropicana on Friday. Field.
That night, playing his trademark style, he jumped for a ball near the wall in center field, put a glove on it but then rolled his left ankle on the way down. He said he felt like he grabbed a cleat on the landing, crashed into the wall, took his next at bat, and then left the game.
He and the Blue Jays stayed out of trouble, though, as Springer sat out Saturday, returned as a DH on Sunday and was back in center field for Monday’s win over the Mariners.
On Tuesday, when his bloop leaped to the left of Souza, he ducked his head and chased the third all the way, no sign that four days earlier he had emerged from the unforgiving turf of the Trop with an ominous limp.
“I was following Santi, obviously the goal is to bring him home,” Springer said of how he saw the game develop. “So once I saw him go, I just went to draw the throw (at third). And I kind of saw it and I was looking at Luis (Rivera, the third baseman coach) and he said go ahead so I continued. And he told me to slide and I did.
Manager Charlie Montoyo praised the thought process that led to Springer reaching third, although he held his breath a bit given the stress on the ankle.
“He’s the only guy that no matter how he feels, he’s going to give it his all,” Montoyo said. “Sometimes you say, ‘Oh, slow down a bit,’ but that’s how he plays and that’s why he’s one of the best players in baseball, because he plays like that.”
The goal-clearing triple opened a 3-0 lead down the second straight after Berrios escaped a goal-laden jam and takedown high on the frame on a lead to Souza that induced a late double play sleeve.
Berrios retired 13 of the next 16 batters he faced and exited the game after allowing the first two batters to reach the eighth.
“Today I was throwing good fastballs,” Berrios said. “I located well all night. Then after that, my breakup pitch worked better. This is the main key, locating the ball down and away.
The length he provided was crucial on a day when the Blue Jays bullpen was without Jordan Romano, who remains day-to-day with a non-COVID illness, and both Trevor Richards and Ryan Borucki, who had launched on consecutive days.
David Phelps snuffed out the Mariners rally brilliantly in the eighth, putting Cal Raleigh on a bizarre roll in third, Adam Frazier on a called third strike and Ty France on a drive to right field. Adam Cimber, pitcher for a second straight day, locked things down in the ninth for his third save, while Chapman sucked balls on the hot corner as usual.
“No matter the score, we can’t let go, keep grinding,” Chapman said of playing tight late. “Little plays late in the game, making good shots, all of those things help you finish ball games, which isn’t easy to do.”
Nor is Springer doing for the Blue Jays, both on and off the court.