Tag: Yunel Escobar

Yunel Escobar Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Angels 3B

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar is reportedly likely to be traded prior to the August 1 deadline. 

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Giants, Mets Have Shown Interest in Trading for Escobar

Sunday, June 26

Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reported the buzz on Escobar on Sunday. ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick had also reported Friday that the Giants were interested in Escobar and that Los Angeles was “listening” to offers for him.

Escobar has had a strong 2016 campaign thus far with a slash line of .310/.359/.409, but the Angels have struggled as a team, losing six straight contests of late to drop to 31-44.

In the midst of a disappointing season, there is logic to Los Angeles exploring the trade market for Escobar. The 33-year-old has an option on his contract for next season, which includes a $1 million buyout instead of a prospective $7 million salary for 2017, per Spotrac.

With a wealth of experience playing shortstop as well, Escobar has versatility as a defender, which should help L.A.’s cause to trade him.

Selling high on a more seasoned player like Escobar would be a savvy move for the Angels as they try to retool their roster before Mike Trout’s true prime hits.

A contender may be willing to give up a good prospect or two for a player of Escobar’s caliber. L.A. would do well to land some pitching help, considering this year’s club ranked 21st in team ERA and tied for 22nd in quality starts entering Sunday’s games.

It makes sense the Mets are among the teams interested in Escobar. New York star David Wright recently had surgery on a herniated disk in his neck and could be done for the year. San Francisco is dealing with an injury to Matt Duffy, who is on the disabled list due to a strained Achilles.

Since Escobar would be an upgrade for both the Mets and Giants, the trade rumors seem to hold water, and the possibility he’s moved to one of those clubs seems quite realistic.

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Yunel Escobar to Angels: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Washington Nationals have reached an agreement Thursday to trade infielder Yunel Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for pitchers Trevor Gott and Michael Brady, announced the Angels.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reported the Angels were getting $1.5 million as part of the trade, likely to help pay Escobar’s salary. 

Escobar became expendable for Washington because of a crowded infield depth chart looking toward 2016. Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman all figure to play key roles, and promising prospect Trea Turner is nearing his full-time arrival.     

Given that uncertain path to playing time, the Nationals opted to move Escobar now in order to upgrade elsewhere while his value was reasonably strong.

The 33-year-old natural shortstop spent all of his time at third base last season. He put together one of his most complete campaigns at the plate, posting a .314 average and .375 on-base percentage with nine home runs and 75 runs scored in 139 games.

It’s fair to wonder whether he can replicate that success, though. He’s a contact hitter—just 70 strikeouts and 45 walks in 2015—and that means he depends on a bit of luck to have consistent success. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was 41 points higher than his career mark, per FanGraphs.

That said, the Angels were seeking to bolster their roster at both second base and third base. Escobar can play either of those positions while also providing additional depth behind defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons at shortstop if needed.

Even if his offensive numbers drop off a bit as his BABIP comes down to a more typical level, he should be a solid pickup for a Los Angeles club that finished 20th in runs scored last season.


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Yunel Escobar Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Nationals 3B

Washington Nationals infielder Yunel Escobar is reportedly on the trade block as front offices begin preparing their plans for the 2015 winter meetings.  

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Nationals Expected To Shop Escobar Next Week

Thursday, Dec. 3

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported Escobar is one of the players who could be on the move when general managers meet up in Nashville, Tennessee.

The 33-year-old natural shortstop spent all of his time at third base for the Nationals last season. He also put together one of the most complete seasons of his career at the plate with a .314 average, .375 on-base percentage and 35 extra-base hits, including nine home runs.

In turn, the Nationals may view this as a chance to sell high on the veteran.

James Wagner of the Washington Post noted in October there might not be a spot available for Escobar next season. If Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa are both healthy and prospect Trea Turner continues to make progress, the team will become overcrowded on the infield.

So the winter meetings represent an opportunity to move Escobar while he still holds solid value in order to upgrade the roster elsewhere.

Trading for him would come with some risk, though. Before his resurgent 2015 campaign, he posted a batting average below .260 in three straight seasons. He’s also struggled in the field as of late, posting a minus-24 Defensive Runs Saved figure at short in 2014 and a minus-11 mark at third last season, per FanGraphs.

Those numbers should temper expectations in terms of what the Nationals could get in return. But, given their limited space on the infield, it sounds like they’ll at least listen to offers.


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Yunel Escobar Records 2nd 5-Hit Performance in Span of 7 Games

Washington Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar had five hits in Monday’s 11-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, making him the first player since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 to record multiple five-hit performances over a span of seven or fewer games, according to Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN Stats & Info.

Escobar singled in each of his five at-bats Monday night, finishing with two runs and an RBI in a game that saw the Nationals carry a 10-0 lead into the third inning.

Batting second in the lineup, Escobar had three hits by the end of the third inning and four hits by the end of the fifth. It appeared he would likely get a sixth at-bat when he singled with two outs in the top of the seventh, but the Nationals then made seven consecutive outs to finish off the game.

The 32-year-old previously had five singles in five at-bats during last Monday’s 6-4 win over the Miami Marlins, finishing that game with a run and two RBI.

While he owns an impressive .410 batting average through his first 10 games in March, Escobar has not recorded an extra-base hit since April 22, when he smacked a three-run double in a 7-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Just five of his 38 hits this season have gone for extra bases, as he has 33 singles, three doubles and two home runs.

Escobar‘s .342 batting average and 13-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio are both impressive, but his .423 slugging percentage is rather ordinary, and his .371 BABIP, via FanGraphs, is unsustainable.

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Yunel Escobar Injury: Updates on Nationals 3B’s Groin and Return

Washington Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar left Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies with a groin injury. 

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Escobar Leaves Game vs. Phillies

Friday, April 17

Mark Zuckerman of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic noted that Escobar exited after he “tweaked something” while attempting to beat out a ground ball. Zuckerman later noted manager Matt Williams said Escobar would be re-evaluated Saturday after sustaining a groin injury.

The Washington Nationals passed along the corresponding lineup changes following the injury:

Escobar hit .258 with seven home runs, 39 RBI and a .324 on-base percentage for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He came to Washington as a versatile infielder who was expected to provide veteran leadership and timely hitting. Zuckerman pointed out earlier in the season that Escobar was living up to the billing:

Escobar is so valuable because he can play multiple positions in the infield. His ability to play second base, third base and even shortstop allows the team to mix and match lineup combinations depending on the opponent. Now others such as Dan Uggla and Danny Espinosa will have to step up until Escobar returns.

Fellow infielder Anthony Rendon is yet to play in a game this season with a knee injury, so this setback to Escobar could be troublesome.

The Nationals are loaded with elite talent and a pitching staff filled with marquee names, but they will need positional depth if they want to cash in on their World Series aspirations. Losing Escobar for extensive time would be a difficult blow.

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Why Trading Yunel Escobar Was the Oakland Athletics’ Best Move of the Offseason

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has had the busiest offseason of any GM, making nine trades involving 27 players in total. His most recent deal, swapping shortstop Yunel Escobar for Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, was his best one of the winter.

Beane acquired Escobar and utility man Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso and prospects Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell on January 10.

The Athletics needed someone to fill in at short after allowing Jed Lowrie to walk, and they got their man from Tampa Bay. But it was Zobrist, not Escobar, as he was flipped to the Nationals for Clippard four days later.

Shortstop is arguably the weakest offensive position in the league, and Escobar has long enjoyed a reputation as an above-average hitter. His best season came with the Atlanta Braves in 2009, when he hit .299/.377/.436.

The problem is, he hasn’t hit at such a high level since 2011. His OPS has fallen under .700 in each of the last three seasons, and he’s only hit double-digit home runs in three of his eight major league seasons.

Middle infielders don’t often carry a lot of power, so Escobar‘s waning power isn’t a deal-breaker on its own. But his 31 career stolen bases are surprisingly low for such a tenured shortstop, and if he’s not a threat in the batter’s box or on the basepaths, where is he a threat?

The answer: he’s a threat in the field—for his own team.

Defensive regression is natural for an aging shortstop, and Escobar is 32. Many players’ arm strength and/or agility starts disappearing around then.

Escobar was actually a good defensive player as recently as 2013, when he posted a 10.7 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), more than double his previous career high and third in the majors among everyday shortstops, per Fangraphs. For comparison, Lowrie had a -6.7 UZR that season, third-worst in the majors for his position.

But Escobar‘s UZR shot down to an abysmal -17.0 in 2014, worst among starting shortstops by a wide margin. His range has all but disappeared, and the Nationals are expected to play him at second base, as the A’s would have.

In fact, Escobar‘s UZR over 150 games (UZR/150) in 2014 was the worst by a shortstop since Fangraphs began keeping track of the stat (h/t Athletics Nation’s Jeremy F. Koo).

Escobar never wanted to play for the A’s, and he would have been a horrible fit in Oakland. The A’s weren’t going to win over Bay Area fans by employing a middle infielder who once wrote an anti-gay slur into his eye black.

After the A’s claimed Escobar on waivers last August, his agent, Alex Esteban, told CBS’ Jon Heyman he was “very concerned” with Oakland’s selection. Tampa Bay pulled Escobar back from waivers after Esteban continued to drop hints about Escobar‘s aversion for suiting up in Oakland.

Clippard, on the other hand, shows no signs of fitting in poorly for the A’s. The Washington Post‘s James Wagner called himan earnest, thoughtful and funny teammate, who was always accountable—good or bad—for his performances and the teams’s performance.”

He has been named to two All-Star Games despite functioning as a set-up man—not a closer—for most of his career. With a 2.68 ERA in just over six years with the Nationals, he’s been one of the most consistent relief options in baseball throughout his career.

Clippard was the Nats closer in 2012 and has the stuff to end for the A’s—which he may be expected to do after Sean Doolittle’s slight rotator cuff tear.

 Oakland acquired a similarly steady relief arm last season in Luke Gregerson, who turned in a 2.12 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his one season with the A’s. Clippard is more of a power arm than Gregerson, but he should be just as good in an eighth-inning set-up role once Doolittle returns.

The A’s are flush with back-of-the-rotation starters, some of whom may turn into bullpen guys. They don’t actually have too many true right-handed relievers like Clippard, though, so he and Ryan Cook will be counted on as dependable late-inning arms.

Fans have bemoaned Beane‘s trading of five of the A’s seven 2014 All-Stars, but Clippard appeared in last year’s Midsummer Classic for the National League team. Oakland flipped an old, defenseless middle infielder with little pop for a shutdown bullpen arm.


Trade information courtesy of Athletics Nation. Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.

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Tampa Bay Rays Reportedly Acquire Yunel Escobar from Miami Marlins for Prospect

The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t add the big bat they really need on Tuesday, but they did make an improvement at shortstop.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays have acquired Yunel Escobar from the Miami Marlins:

Escobar may not make Rays fans jump for joy, but he is an upgrade for a reasonable price. Dietrich hit .279 last season between High-A and Double-A, but he’s built more like a third baseman, and Evan Longoria should be in the hot corner for the foreseeable future.

Last season, the Rays played Ben Zobrist. Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez at shortstop. Zobrist is the only guy who is ready to play every day out of that bunch, just not at shortstop.

That makes Escobar a solid pickup, even if he hasn’t been all that productive. He hit .253 last season with nine home runs and 51 RBI as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He did hit .290 with 11 home runs in 2011, but it’s not going to get much better than that.

Escobar hasn’t been happy since going to Miami as part of the blockbuster deal between the Marlins and Blue Jays in November. A change of scenery should benefit him, so long as he stays motivated.

The Rays picked up a quality player here, and they didn’t have to give up much to make it happen. That’s the name of the game for a small-market club, and Tampa Bay has handled itself expertly in that arena in recent years.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Rays may not be done making moves either, so stay tuned.

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Yunel Escobar Suspended 3 Games for Wearing Eye Black with Gay Slur

Shortstop Yunel Escobar has been suspended for three games by the Toronto Blue Jays, according to Dan Shulman of ESPN.

Shulman tweeted on Tuesday:


Escobar wore eye black labeled with a message in Spanish largely interpreted as a gay slur on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox, per CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder.

As Toronto’s starting shortstop, the 29-year-old from Cuba has hit .251 with nine home runs, 49 RBI and 55 runs and has added five stolen bases this season.

It’s certainly an unfortunate incident for baseball. Professional sports leagues in general (including, most notably, the NBA) have been trying to curb the use of gay slurs. They continue to be used far too loosely throughout sports and society, and you have to wonder what Escobar was attempting to accomplish with his eye black on Saturday.

It’s also poor publicity for the Blue Jays franchise, which has sunk after a strong start this season. The Blue Jays are currently 66-79, 16.5 games behind in the AL East and 16 games back for a Wild Card spot.

Escobar, who was with the Atlanta Braves before joining the Blue Jays midway through the 2010 season, hasn’t had a history of such actions. In fact, he hasn’t had any major clubhouse incidents, either. It’s certainly odd that he would randomly do this.

Hopefully the suspension handed down by the Blue Jays will be enough to send Escobar and the rest of Major League Baseball a strong message: There is no room for discrimination.


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Joey Votto: Toronto Blue Jays Potential Trade Target

The Blue Jays will be aggressive this offseason; with two huge first basemen hitting free agency there is no question GM Alex Anthopoulos will be inquiring on both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.  Both men will get big money, but it won’t be from the Jays.  I feel the price tag will be too large and the length of the contract beyond the Jays comfort zone to lock up either free agent.  The Blue Jays biggest target this offseason (assuming that Felix Hernandez will be kept off the trading block) will be Joey Votto

Adam Lind, first baseman of the Jays in 2011, put up decent offensive statistics throughout the year, but a lowly OPS number of .295 is well below where it should be.  That would be a nice starting point for his batting average, let alone his OPS.  Granted he did slug 26 home runs and drove in 87, these numbers should be higher hitting behind Jose Bautista. Compare that to Votto who hit .309/.416/.581 (BA/OPS/SLG). I believe the Jays will inquire on the Reds first baseman.


The Reds are in the an envious position of having two power hitting left-handed first basemen, the difference is one is young, cheap and controllable…the other is expensive and possibly leaving the team in a couple years via free agency.  The Reds organization is coming to a tipping point financially, to either hold onto Votto for the remainder of his contract or to move Votto and replace him at first with a talented young first baseman, Yonder Alonso. 

It breaks down like this: Votto will be paid in 2012-13 $9.5 million and $17 million respectively, whereas Alonso is under contract for 2012 for just $1 million and presumably re-signed for the 2013 for $1.8 million (or re-signed for a longer term contract that is good for both sides, but in the very least he is controllable).  The difference of $23.7 million over those two seasons could be saved and spent elsewhere to help the Reds organization. The Reds understand that trading away Votto, rather than Alonso, is the better move for the franchise because Votto would be eating up a large chunk of their payroll. (Not including signing bonus cash to be paid out)

They could trade Votto to the Jays in a deal that could be set up like this:

To the Jays:

  • 1B Joey Votto


To the Reds:

  • SS Yunel Escobar
  • P Kyle Drabek
  • P Deck McGuire


Who the Reds Get:

The Reds need help at shortstop and trading for Yunel Escobar would be great for the franchise. Zack Cozart played well in his short stint with the big league club, but with such a small sample size the chance to attain Escobar would be a hard one to pass up; Escobar is more talented and well-rounded at the position.   He ranked No. 3 among shortstops in OPS last season and had a WAR rating of 4.4. Escobar hit in the leadoff spot in the lineup and was one of the Jays top hitters, setting the table for Jose Bautista. 

 Escobar’s contract is set up very team friendly and will make the Reds strongly consider this move; he is signed up for 2012-13 for $10 million total, and has team options for 2014-15, each for $5 million a season. This move alleviates many fiscal restraints on the Reds front office (especially considering Votto’s 2013 salary) and moves in a very talented SS that is controllable for four more seasons.

Kyle Drabek was the center piece to the Roy Halladay trade.  In fact, it was the Phillies who were not willing to involve the prospect in the Halladay deal that was creating a road block for both parties.  Drabek struggled with control in 2011, but putting too much pressure on himself accounted for some of the wildness.  He has the stuff to become a front end of the rotation pitcher, with a hard fastball that touches 95mph and a curveball that falls off the table; his repertoire is nasty.  The numbers don’t lie that Drabek struggled this past season, but it has not influenced opinions on how good Kyle will become.  The Reds would be attaining a very high ceiling pitcher who, potentially, could find himself pitching right behind Cueto in the rotation.

The Reds would also be acquiring Deck McGuire, who was the first round (11th overall) draft pick of the Jays in 2010.  McGuire pitched three seasons at Georgia Tech before beginning his pro career, which gave him a solid foundation.  He is a horse on the mound and will be a very effective starter in the future, eating up major innings.  Deck plowed through 125 innings and collected a 9-5 record with a 3.02 ERA combined in his first professional season which saw him promoted from Dunedin (A) to New Hampshire (AA).  The Jays would lose a fantastic pitching prospect, and the Reds will gain a young hurler that will be major league ready very soon, possibly a 2012 call up. 

This package brings in a top tier talent at shortstop, pitching depth and a great pitching prospect to Cincinnati, as well as addresses the issue of clearing up payroll and finding a permanent position for Alonso (it would be a mistake to keep him in LF).


What the Jays will do:

The Jays would be bringing in their third left-handed hitting first baseman to the club and they will not be carrying all three on the 25 man roster come April.  Adam Lind would presumably be shopped around to a club who is looking for first base help and heavy on bullpen pitching (Lind to Oakland for Andrew Bailey?). The Jays are looking to improve their bullpen and making a move to trade Lind would give them the best return on investment.   They would keep young David Cooper (who hit .356 in Las Vegas (AAA) last season, with on OPS of .439) as a backup for Votto and to platoon the DH role with right handed hitting Edwin Encarnacion.  This would clear Lind’s salary off the books and bring in some pitching help to shore up the Jays bullpen. 

Losing Escobar would force GM Alex Anthopoulos to bring up young SS Adeiny Hechavarria, who was slated to play all season in Las Vegas (AAA).  He is a potential gold glove prospect who the Jays are very keen on; from day one he would be able to showcase his defensive ability.  Hechavarria would step up and hit in the nine hole for the Jays and potentially develop his hitting prowess into a productive offensive threat with some speed.   In the final 25 games of the 2010 season in Las Vegas (AAA), Hechavarria tore up the league with a .389 batting average, so there is potential at the dish.   The thought of also bringing back beloved former Blue Jay, John McDonald, would make it an easier transition for Hechavarria to learn the big league ropes from.


After the Deal:

This deal works for both teams: The Jays receive former MVP and Toronto born player Joey Votto, while the Reds receive a top-tier talent at shortstop (one of the hardest positions to fill) and a couple of strong young arms.  There will have to be a consensus from the Reds organization that this move will inevitably help the franchise in the years to come, even though it will sting to trade away their franchise player.  They must realize they cannot afford to keep Votto in the long term and he will most likely be gone in two short seasons.

The Jays will be adding another huge bat to their already powerful lineup, anchored by Jose Bautista.  It is scary to think of just how good Votto and Bautista’s numbers will be when they are side by side in the lineup.  I still see Bautista hitting in the three hole with Votto taking over the cleanup duties.  It would make for an exciting year for all Jays fans.

If Cincinnati balks at the thought of trading Votto, the Jays will walk away and happily go into next season with the players they offered in the trade.  They have zero sense of panic and will not overpay for Votto.

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Toronto Blue Jays Win Big Playing Small Ball in Home Opener

The Blue Jays home opener started big with Jose Bautista receiving his silver slugger award from last season. Then, the pre-game activities were even bigger as Roberto Alomar and Pat Gilleck were on hand to see their Hall of Fame banners unveiled in the rafters before they teamed up to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the season.

To make things even better, the night ended very big for the Jays as well, as they pulled off a 13-3 shellacking of the Minnesota Twins in front of their home fans. They were carried by some solid pitching from Ricky Romero as he picked up the win in 6.1 innings pitched, allowing only three runs and striking out seven.

However, if you rewind back to the first inning it becomes quite clear that the Jays won this game because they did the little things well, right from the beginning. 

All it took was one game, actually, one inning, for this year’s Blue Jays team to convince me that they will have a far more versatile offense this season. The spark tonight came in the first inning as the Jays put up four runs, off two hits and some smart heads up base running highlighted by a beautiful double steal and a sneaky play by Adam Lind.

I know it’s really early to be saying things like “if the Jays continue like this then…” or “if the Jays keep this up….”  But, I’m going to do it anyway.

The duo of Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar went a combined two for nine, but they more than made up for it with some great base running in the first inning that really got things going for the Jays. 

First, Rajai Davis showed some hustle as he ran out a very hard hit grounder to Twins shortstop Alexi Casella for a base hit. Once on base, he got caught in a round down but skilfully managed to maneuver his way out of trouble and stay safe at first. This was crucial for the big four-run outburst the Jays had in the first inning. 

The next batter, Yunel Escobar, singled, and then the duo came up with a masterful double steal getting themselves both into scoring position for none other than the reigning Home Run king and Silver Slugger award winner Jose Bautista. 

Bautista would not put one over the fence just yet, and he ended up being walked by Carl Pavano (coming off a fourth ball, which in my opinion, was way too far up and inside. Especially considering the fact that everyone knew he would pitch around Jose with first base open). 

Following the near “sweet chin music” on Bautista, Carl Pavano walked in the Jays first run of the season when he hit Adam Lind with a pitch. 

Fortunately, Adam Lind got some revenge on the next play via some additional crafty Blue Jays base running.  Lind sneakily advanced to second on an Aaron Hill sac fly to center field that scored Yunel Escobar and put the Jays up by two. In doing so, Lind proved that Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar are not the only ones capable of turning some heads on the base paths.

The team’s solid base running in the first inning tells me that all the Jays are buying into the new small-ball game plan for this season. In addition, it is clear that they are all on the same page, just look at the way Jose Bautista (on 3B at the time) was communicating with Lind, who had just advanced to second. 

Therefore, fellow Jays fans, we are certainly in store for quite the show on the base paths this season. So sit back and enjoy it, because judging by the four home runs the Jays also managed to hit tonight it seems like they will be a legit double threat this season on offense.

As a result, they will be able to put up more than enough run support to keep the young Toronto pitching staff relaxed and comfortable, which means they will be able to go out there and just pitch like they know they can, with little to no pressure!

Great home opener win, let’s go Jays!


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