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Welcome to the 2016 Season - Blue Jays win 5-3

The Blue Jays kick off their 2016 campaign in the Trop against the division rival Tampa Bay Devil Rays and come away with win #1 of the season.

Marcus Stroman pitched 8 Innings of good baseball in the Jays season opener
Marcus Stroman pitched 8 Innings of good baseball in the Jays season opener
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The day we have collectively anticipated ever since the Toronto Blue Jays fell to the Kansas City Royals in Game 6 of the ALDS has finally arrived!

No more discussing off-season trades or signings. No more discussing rotations or lineups or position battles. We have finally made it to the end of the off-season. We've finally made it to:


Your Toronto Blue Jays (0-0) opened their season against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (0-0) sending Marcus Stroman (4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, 3.54 FIP in 4 starts in 2015) to make his first career Opening Day start up against Chris Archer (12-13 with a 3.23 ERA, 2.90 FIP in 34 starts).

The Jays enter the season hoping to defend their AL East title from the season before and are coming off an off-season of drastic change. The Devil Rays (frankly, a much cooler name and the one I'll be using until I get bored with it) were 80-82 last season but could see that improve with the return of a healthy Matt Moore and Drew Smyly, the two combining for just 24 starts in 2015 due to injury (Moore coming off TJ surgery; Smyly tore his labrum).

And now, without further ado, onto the action! (BOXSCORE for the Mobile Users)

Future Trivia: The first pitch of the 2016 Blue Jays season was from Chris Archer to Kevin Pillar and it was a BALL, up and away. The second was in play to the D-Rays Shortstop Brad Miller for an out.

But, in the words of former NHL 1st Overall pick Alexandre Daigle, "No one remembers number two".

A Josh Donaldson single proceeded a Jose Bautista walk, and then a Hank Conger passed ball set the stage for Edwin Encarnacion with runners in scoring position. And the veteran slugger did not disappoint, poking a single into centerfield giving the Jays their first lead of the season.

2-0 Blue Jays

It would take Archer 34 pitches to get through the first inning, doing so by striking out Chris Colabello and Michael Saunders.

Then, it was time for the Stro-Show!

A strikeout of Logan Forsythe, a groundout of Logan Morrison, and a fantastic diving stab by Colabello and throw to Stro to get Corey Dickerson, and the Jays Ace was out of the 1st Inning on just 10 pitches. Evan Longoria doubled somewhere in there but we don't need to talk about that.

Second piece of trivia: The Jays would win their first challenge of the season in the 2nd Inning on a play at 1st Base. Colabello, having fielded another ground ball, would try to tag Kevin Kiermaier on his way to the bag. He'd miss and the two would simultaneously lunge for the bag. The call on the field was safe but replay would show that it was Cola that got to the base first. Call overturned.

It would be in the 3rd that the Rays (yes, I got bored with it) would score their first run. Forsythe, having reached on a fielder's choice, and advanced to second on a Logan Morrison groundout to Stroman, would be cashed in on a Longoria single to right.

A booted ball by Ryan Goins would give the Rays two on with two out for Desmond Jennings but Stroman would lock it down and induce a weakly hit grounder to Tulowitzki to end the inning.

2-1 Blue Jays

In the 4th LoMo, as he is affectionately called, would boot a ball off his glove and head for an error allowing Saunders to reach. A single by Goins would lead to a 1-out, runner in scoring position situation for Pillar who would deposit Archer's 78th pitch of the game into right field for the Jays 3rd run of the game.

Through four innings Archer had thrown 90 pitches, the last of which being a questionable strike call to K Jose Bautista, and struck out nine.

3-1 Blue Jays

Stroman, on the other hand, had been cruising along until a 2-out error on an easy fly ball that fell off the glove of Bautista gave the Rays a runner in scoring position (Keirmaier). But, the Rays Gold Glove CF would get a bit greedy testing the arm of Russell Martin and would pay the price and get gunned down trying to swipe third on what was ball four to Conger.

Archer would finish getting through just five innings throwing 107 pitches, striking out 12, allowed two earned runs, three overall, and a ridiculous .13 FIP. He left the game in line for the loss.

In contrast, Stroman would have a four pitch fifth inning capped off by Logan Morrison jawing from the dugout about something Stroman may have said (or something he may have thought he said). Or, maybe Morrison was angry because he's Logan Morrison. Former top prospect OF of the Miami Marlins turned below average 1B in Tampa Bay. A 28 year old watching his once promising MLB career dwindle into obscurity. I'm not sure.

Enny Romero would enter the game for the Rays taking over for Archer in the 6th inning striking out one of his own making it 13 Blue Jays struck out through six innings. Ryan Webb would relieve him in the 7th adding another K to the total. By the end of the evening the Blue Jays would have struck out 16 times in total.

Stroman continued to hum along throwing just six pitches in the 7th to retire the side. Through seven he'd thrown just 81 pitches allowing just four hits. Very economic considering the errors made behind him forcing him to throw more pitches than he should have.

Come the 8th inning Tulowitzki had decided that the game was too close and decided to give the Jays a bit of breathing room. With Encarnacion on first following a leadoff single Tulo ripped a ball into left field landing a few rows deep in the stands for a 2-run homerun, his first of the year.

5-1 Blue Jays

Corey Dickerson would halt the celebration momentarily with a leadoff homerun to right field in the bottom of the ninth and Desmond Jennings would end Marcus Stroman's night with a single right after.

Stroman went 8 innings (plus two batters), allowing five hits, three earned, striking out five and leaving in line for the win. Roberto Osuna would come into the game to close it out. He'd strike out Miller, Steven Souza, before Kiermayer poked a single into center to score the Devil Rays 3rd run (got my 2nd wind!).

Defensive indifference and a wild pitch would move Kiermaier to 3rd but a weakly hit grounder back to Osuna would end the comeback and give the Jays their first win of the season.

5-3 Blue Jays Win!

Jays of the Day
Marcus Stroman gets a nod for his great start. No one else hit the number but Encarnacion went 2-4 with two RBI's with his 1st inning single. So, honourable mention.

Suckage of the Day
Logan Morrison. Because I feel like it.

Jays back in action tomorrow in Game 2 of the series. If memory serves, R.A Dickey takes the mound for the Jays against Smyly. First Pitch is at 7:05 EST.

Source: FanGraphs