The Summer of George has made its way to Canadian soil.
When George Springer signed a six-year 150 million-dollar deal with the Blue Jays this past offseason, he expected to play in Toronto, he just wasn't sure when that would be. In Saturday's 4-0 win, Springer got a homecoming of his own.
"Obviously, this is where I wanted to play," Springer said. "This is home. And for us to to have a chance to come back here, to play in front of the fans, the atmosphere has been unbelievable here the last couple games."
In the bottom of the first, Springer deposited a first-pitch fastball from Kansas City Royals starter Mike Minor into the second deck for a solo home run.
He muttered "Stay fair, stay fair" as the ball sailed inside the left field foul pole for his 10th homer of the season and 40th career leadoff jack. But he wasn't done just yet.
In the third inning, Springer went deep to right field for a two-run bomb—his 11th longball of the year and second in as many at-bats. Turns out, Springer enjoyed hitting at Rogers Centre long before donning a Blue Jays uniform. Prior to Saturday, the 31-year-old was batting .386/.471/.649 in 16 games at The Dome.
Springer's bat provided three of four Blue Jays runs, but an excellent starting pitching performance kept the game in check.
When the Blue Jays charter touched down late Friday morning and the team rolled into Toronto, Alek Manoah was excited. In fact, Manoah was so excited that he and fellow rookie Tayler Saucedo raced down from their hotel rooms to see the Rogers Centre turf.
"We couldn't wait to see it," Manoah said. "So that was like first thing we went to go do—see the field, just see the environment and just envision ourselves winning ballgames on that mound."
Yet, Manoah was calm and collected as he took the ball for his first start in front of the home crowd. When he blew an elevated fastball past Royals catcher Salvador Perez for his first punch out of the game, it was no big deal. Manoah took the throw back from Alejandro Kirk, rubbed up the ball and zoned back in.
"Everybody can play a lot better with all that adrenaline," Manoah said. "The only thing is that a lot of people don't know how to control it. So being able to control that adrenaline, stay in my routine, stay breathing and just stay pitch-to-pitch I think was the biggest thing for me."
The 23-year-old's velocity was down a touch, but he still rolled through seven innings, allowing only two hits, walking one and striking out four.
For Manoah, a debut at Rogers Centre was undoubtedly a big milestone, but this was also his first start since July 19, when a slip-and-fall on the dugout steps sent him to the injured list. Manoah's workload was being closely monitored—Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo confirmed that before the game—but Saturday's performance gave his manager nothing to worry about.
The Blue Jays have an uphill battle towards AL East supremacy. Yet with back-to-back stellar outings to begin the newest chapter at Rogers Centre and a revamped starting rotation to boot, things are looking up for the boys in blue.