The Toronto Blue Jays, bolstered by pitching acquisitions and a return to their home park, will be out to clinch their three-game series with the visiting Kansas City Royals Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Jays held on to defeat the Royals 6-4 Friday in their return to the Rogers Centre after an absence of 670 days.
Right-hander Alek Manoah (2-1, 2.90 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays Saturday against left-hander Mike Minor (8-8, 5.32).
The Blue Jays, who had not played in Toronto since Sept. 29, 2019, because of COVID-19 restrictions, had been playing home games in Dunedin, Fla., and Buffalo.
Crowds are being limited to 15,000 in Toronto. An announced crowd of 13,446 watched an opening ceremony on Friday that was tinged with emotion.
"The videos of the fans talking about how much they missed us, I kind of looked down once in a while because otherwise you would have seen tears," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
"We've just kind of been trying to pretend like we had a home and it's difficult to do for two years," said Bo Bichette, who hit a two-run homer on Friday. "So when we finally came back here, it feels like, definitely, a big weight off our shoulders."
"It feels like Opening Day, just all through the city," Royals manager Mike Matheny said before the game. "You go through the hotel, and everybody's talking about the big day. It's amazing that we're almost in August and everybody's so jazzed about this first game here at Rogers Centre."
Toronto fans had other reasons to be excited. The Blue Jays, who already had acquired relief pitcher Brad Hand from the Washington Nationals, added starter Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) and reliever Joakim Soria (Arizona Diamondbacks) on Friday.
"We're thinking about next year, too," Montoyo said. "A guy like Berrios is one of the best starters in baseball, and now we have control over him next year as well."
Berrios could make his Blue Jays debut on Sunday.
Manoah, meanwhile, will make his ninth career start and first against the Royals. He has not pitched since July 9 because of a back contusion from a fall on the dugout steps in Buffalo just before his scheduled next start.
In eight career appearances (six starts), Minor is 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA against Toronto. In one start against Toronto this season, he allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss in Game 1 of the April 17 doubleheader.
The Royals made a deal on Friday, sending outfielder Jorge Soler to the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Kasey Kalich.
Soler, a free agent at the end of the season, has hit six home runs in 12 games since the All-Star break after hitting seven in his first 82 games. He set the franchise record with 48 homers in 2019.
"Soler is just an unbelievable guy," second baseman Whit Merrifield said. "Just a great guy to have in the clubhouse. I loved coming in every day and getting to see him, mess with him and watch him smile. ... It's unfortunate he hit a little snag this year, because he's such a great hitter and he's got such crazy power that he's going to make (Atlanta) a lot better."
--Field Level Media