Blue Jays look to stay hot at home, clash with Royals

The host Toronto Blue Jays will be out to win their four-game series against the undermanned Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.

The underachieving Blue Jays, who fired manager Charlie Montoyo on Wednesday, have had their hands full with a makeshift Royals team that is without 10 players.

The Blue Jays needed a three-run rally in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday afternoon to earn a 6-5 victory that gave them a 2-1 lead in the final series for both teams before the All-Star break. Toronto is now 3-1 under interim manager John Schneider.

“We have a lot of confidence in the spot that we’re in right now,” said Teoscar Hernandez, whose single in the bottom of the 10th drove in the winning run. “I think we’re in a good spot. If the season ends today, we’re in the playoffs. We don’t have that pressure. We’re just playing our game and trying to keep winning.”

Toronto will start right-hander Jose Berrios (7-4, 5.38 ERA) on Sunday, while Kansas City is sending out left-hander Kris Bubic (1-6, 6.63).

In 18 career outings against the Royals, Berrios is 6-4 with a 4.54 ERA. Bubic has never faced the Blue Jays.

After a 1-6 road trip, the Blue Jays are 4-1 on their six-game homestand.

The Royals have won five of their past eight games despite losing two in a row to Toronto after winning the series opener 3-1 on Thursday. Since June 15, the Royals are 16-14.

Kansas City has had to fill in its roster with minor leaguers because it had 10 players who failed to meet Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The latest of the Royals to record his first major league hit was Michael Massey, who singled twice on Saturday when he started at second base.

Massey was also involved in the call that earned Royals manager Mike Matheny an ejection by home plate umpire John Bacon. Massey was called for batter’s interference on Toronto catcher Danny Jansen’s pickoff attempt to second base to end the top of the sixth.

“I just think it’s a bad call at a very bad time in the game,” Matheny said. “It’s a judgment call so there’s nothing we can do about it, but it’s a shame. We’ve got Massey up, who’s already had a couple of nice hits. He gets us into a spot to do something and turn the tide of the game. I thought it was an unnecessary call.”

Blue Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal was selected for the All-Star Game Saturday, replacing Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros.

Espinal will join teammates Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk and Alek Manoah in Los Angeles. George Springer was also selected to go to the All-Star Game but will rest his elbow instead.

“It’s numbers, consistency, then you look at what he does defensively,” Schneider said of Espinal. “He’s probably one of the best in the game.”

Toronto acquired left-hander Foster Griffin from Kansas City Saturday for right-hander Jonatan Bernal. Griffin was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Toronto recalled right-hander Jeremy Beasley from Buffalo and designated right-hander Sergio Romo for assignment.

The Royals recalled right-hander Collin Snider from Triple-A Omaha on Saturday and optioned right-hander Carlos Hernandez to Omaha. Hernandez pitched four innings in relief on Friday and was unavailable for the rest of the series.

–Field Level Media