Springer's 5 hits help Blue Jays outlast Cardinals in wild opener
ST. LOUIS (AP) — George Springer had five hits and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in three runs as the Toronto Blue Jays beat St. Louis 10-9 on Thursday, despite the Cardinals' Tyler O'Neill tying a major league record by homering on opening day for the fourth straight season.
Making his Cardinals debut, catcher Willson Contreras left during the eighth inning because of an injured knee and was sent for a scan.
Springer was 5 for 6 with five singles in the fourth five-hit game of his big league career to go along with a six-hit game for Houston at Oakland in May 2018. Springer set a Toronto record for hits in an opener and combined with Baltimore's Adley Rutschman to become the first pair of players with five hits each on opening day since at least 1901.
“It's awesome, obviously you want to start off good,” Springer said. “It's only one game. But, I'll take all the hits I can get.”
Bo Bichette had four hits and Matt Chapman three for the Blue Jays, who outhit the Cardinals 19-15 and set a team record for hits in an opener.
“It was a grind. It was a roller-coaster,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “But up and down the at-bats were great.”
Toronto won its fourth straight opener by overcoming a 9-8 deficit in the ninth against Ryan Helsley (0-1). Springer tied the score with an RBI single and Guerrero followed with a sacrifice fly.
Cleanup hitter Daulton Varsho added a hit and two RBI. The top four hitters in the Blue Jays order were a combined 12-for-21 with seven RBI and seven runs scored.
“Our offense went out there and had an amazing day,” Varsho said. “We continued to battle no matter what. That's the kind of team that we are.”
O’Neill’s two-run homer in the third off Alek Manoah cut the Cardinals’ deficit to 4-3. O’Neill matched the mark for consecutive openers with home runs shared by the New York Yankees’ Yogi Berra (1955-58), Montreal’s Gary Carter (1977-80) and the New York Mets’ Todd Hundley (1994-97).
Contreras was hit on the knee by a 102.7 mph fastball from Jordan Hicks on the first pitch to Guerrero in the eighth inning, which bounced away for a wild pitch. Guerrero followed with a two-run single for an 8-7 lead.
“He's hurting pretty good," St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “It squared him up in the knee.”
Contreras was scheduled to get an MRI later in the evening.
“Hope it's just day to day,” Marmol said.
Nolan Arenado hit a two-run double in the bottom half off Yimi García (1-0) and had three RBIs.
Jordan Romano struck out two in a perfect ninth for the save, fanning World Baseball Classic fan favorite Lars Nootbar on a slider to end the game.
St. Louis 41-year-old right-hander Adam Wainwright sang the national anthem to the surprise of the standing room only crowd of 47,649. The 41-year-old is an accomplished musician who plays guitar.
“Adam did a real nice job,” Marmol said.
Despite the pitch clock, the game lasted 3 hours, 38 minutes
Brendan Donovan hit a solo homer that tied the score 5-5 in the fourth off Manoah, who gave up five runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas allowed five runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
St. Louis OF Jordan Walker at 20 years, 312 days became the youngest player to make his debut for the Cardinals since Rick Ankiel at 20 years, 35 days on Aug. 23, 1999. Walker went 1 for 5 with an RBI groundout.
Cardinals: Wainwright remains on the 10-day IL with a groin injury sustained while working out with the U.S. during the World Baseball Classic. He is eligible to be activated on April 9.
St. Louis RHP Jack Flaherty (2-1, 4.25 ERA last season) will face RHP Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.35) in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday. Flaherty was the opening day starter in 2021. Gausman is 1-4 with a 4.05 ERA in nine appearances against St. Louis.
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