Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gets key hit in 4-2 win over A's
TORONTO — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. helped spark a walk-off celebration for the Toronto Blue Jays in his major league debut.
Guerrero doubled leading off the ninth inning for his first hit, and Brandon Drury followed with a winning two-run homer with two outs in a 4-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
“Just the way I dreamed it,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero was showered with beer and almond milk after the game in the clubhouse. On the field, he dumped a sports drink over Drury.
“It was awesome,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Guerrero, the 20-year-old son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, is considered the top prospect in the major leagues. He arrived at Rogers Centre in a replica Montreal Expos jersey to honor his father, who was on hand. He grounded out in the second, was robbed of an extra-base hit by left fielder Chad Pinder’s leaping catch in the fourth, then flied out to right in the sixth.
“He’s a great player,” Drury said. “You can see by his at-bats the game kind of comes easy to him. We’re all super excited to have Vladdy in this lineup.”
Guerrero hit an opposite-field double down the right-field line on a 2-2 fastball from Yusmeiro Petit (0-1). Billy McKinney sacrificed pinch-runner Alen Hanson and, with the infield in, Teoscar Hernandez lined out to second baseman Jurickson Profar.
Drury followed with a drive over the center-field wall to stop an 0-for-12 slide. Guerrero, arm raised, was the first Blue Jays player out of the dugout to celebrate.
“It feels great,” said Drury, who talked Montoyo out of giving him a day off. “I always feel like I’m one swing away from getting my bat going. I never want to take a day off, I want to be in there every day.”
Ken Giles (1-1) struck out two in a one-hit ninth. Eric Sogard’s first-inning homer and Randal Grichuk’s third-inning RBI single built a lead off Mike Fiers, but Robbie Grossman hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Joe Biagini.
Guerrero missed the start of the season after an oblique injury in spring training. He played four rehab games at Class A Dunedin before moving up to Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .367 with three homers and eight RBIs in eight games.
“People don’t understand how good of a hitter this guy really is,” Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman said. “He’s way ahead of his years.”
Oakland manager Bob Melvin said he was impressed with Guerrero’s performance at the plate.
“He looks like he has a good swing, an aggressive swing,” Melvin said, “Looks like there’s some power behind it.”
By delaying Guerrero’s debut until Friday, the Blue Jays ensured his maximum service time this year would be 157 days — 15 days shy of being eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.
The few hundred fans already inside the stadium clapped and cheered as Guerrero launched several long drives.
A crowd of 28,688 rose for a standing ovation as Guerrero led off the bottom of the second. Guerrero worked the count to 2-2 as fans chanted “Let’s go, Vladdy!” On the fifth pitch, he hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Kendrys Morales, who made the play unassisted. The exit velocity was 106.8 miles per hour.