Guerrero debuts with hit that sets up Jays’ 4-2 win over A’s

Ian Harrison
Associated Press
Toronto Blue Jays' Brandon Drury (3) celebrates his walkoff home run with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. during baseball game action in Toronto, Friday, April 26, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Toronto — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. capped his major league debut with a double leading off the ninth inning for his first hit, and Brandon Drury followed with a winning two-run homer with two outs to lift the Toronto Blue Jays over the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Friday night.

The 20-year-old son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, considered the top prospect in the major leagues, 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 Stephen Pinder’s leaping catch in the fourth, then flied out to right in the sixth.

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 Hernández lined out to second baseman Jurickson Profar.

Drury followed with a drive over the center-field wall, and Guerrero, arm raised, was the first Blue Jays player out of the dugout to celebrate.

Ken Giles (1-1) struck out two on 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 Jr. 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.

By delaying his 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.

The 20-year-old batted fifth and played third base and wore No. 27, the number retired in honor of his father by the Los Angeles Angels.

“Since I was a kid I was running around with my dad in the clubhouse in Montreal,” Guerrero Jr. said in an afternoon news conference. “I just wanted to bring that back today.”

Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted the debut on Twitter with a message attached to a Tweet from the elder Guerrero.

Guerrero’s famous father watched as his son’s batting practice was broadcast live on Sportsnet, the Canadian network operated by team owner Rogers Communications.