Over 50,000 fans in Montreal watch Blue Jays beat Reds
MONTREAL (AP) Josh Donaldson homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-1 Saturday before a crowd of 50,231 at Olympic Stadium.
The Blue Jays earned a split of a two-game set with Cincinnati that drew a total of 96,545. The fans rallied, hoping to show Major League Baseball they want big league ball back after losing the Expos to Washington following the 2004 season.
''It's a really cool experience,'' Toronto starter Daniel Norris said. ''And it's a good tuneup for what's to come.''
Norris allowed one hit in three shutout innings on the final day of spring training.
Donaldson homered in the second off Anthony Desclafani.
Toronto scored four times in the fifth off relievers Kevin Gregg and Chris Carpenter. Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Donaldson and Dioner Navarro each drove in a run.
The Blue Jays decided on their last 25-man roster spot before the game, opting to keep Liam Hendricks and go with an eight-man bullpen and sending infielder Ryan Goins to Triple-A.
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The total attendance for the Reds-Blue Jays topped the 96,350 that saw Toronto and the New York Mets play a two-game exhibition series in Montreal last season.
''We really enjoyed it last year and I think everyone was looking forward to coming back,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. ''And the games are worthwhile because it's a lot like the season.''
''Big crowds. You get out of that hot sun in Florida and play some night games. I thought it was a big success and we appreciated it all.''
Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, who grew up in Montreal, was taken out of the game in the seventh inning - by his dad.
The crowd cheered when Russell Martin Sr., a musician who played the national anthem on a saxophone on Friday night, walked out to the mound to make the move.
''It was one of those moments,'' the Toronto catcher said. ''Already the week has been fantastic.''
''The big moment with the national anthem, and just being in Montreal. It's my dream coming to life, really. Then my dad shows up on the field. That was a pretty cool moment.''
Another ovation came when Cincinnati's Chad Wallach, the 23-year-old-son of popular former Expos third baseman Tim Wallach, came up as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
''It just showed me how popular my dad was here,'' he said. ''I know it was because of my dad but I really appreciated it.''
''I know they're trying to get baseball back and it's probably a huge help to get big crowds out here. If it's like that most nights, I think it would be a great place to play.''
Also getting cheers were ex-Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston and infielder Roberto Alomar and former Montreal Expos star Tony Perez during a pregame ceremony.
Reds: Open the season Monday at home against Pittsburgh.
Blue Jays: Begin the season Monday at Yankee Stadium.