KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo wasn’t comfortable saying what kind of target he had in mind pre-game when it came to Ross Stripling’s first start since May 7.
Stripling, moving back into the rotation in place of Hyun Jin Ryu, who is dealing with some elbow and forearm tightness, hadn’t been properly stretched out for a start coming from his bullpen role where he has filled whatever role asked of him.
Stripling made it easy on the manager, limiting himself to just 56 pitches through five innings while blanking the Royals on a lone single.
When Montoyo did call it a night for his starter, the Jays had built a comfortable 6-0 lead on their way to an 8-0 win.
Stripling is one of the few remaining pitchers in the major leagues capable of handling the versatile role Montoyo and the Jays ask of him.
That swing man capable of starting, or in Stripling’s case, even closing out a game, and moving mostly seamlessly back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation is no longer a commodity most teams in the majors can claim.
Stripling is a veteran comfortable in just about any situation you put him in, and that was more evident than ever last night with both teams sitting through a somewhat unnecessary two-hour-and-five-minute rain delay before the game could start.
Unnecessary because while the meteorologists in the area may have been calling for precipitation, barely any fell during the actual delay.
In fact, more came once the game had started, but even that dried up after about three innings.
The lone base-runner the Royals managed with Stripling on the hill came in the third inning, when Michael Taylor, not not to be confused with the former Jay of the same name, singled sharply into left.
Stripling left him there, getting Nicky Lopez on strikes and then Whit Merrifield to ground out to second.
The Jays could not have asked for much more given there was really no time to get Stripling properly stretched out for this assignment.
Second-year Royals’ starter Daniel Lynch was clean through the Blue Jays order the first time through, but wasn’t quite so fortunate the second time around.
George Springer got it started with a leadoff walk before Bo Bichette jumped on a 1-0 changeup and took Lynch over the field in right-centre for a two-run homer.
It was the ninth homer of the year for the Jays’ shortstop and as it turned out, just the beginning for the Jays offence for the evening.
The Jays would get two more home runs, a solo shot by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the fifth for his 13th of the season and, in the same inning, a three-run shot from Santiago Espinal to basically put this one out of reach when it gave the Jays a 6-0 lead.
Pitchers Julian Merryweather, Trevor Richards, Trent Thornton and 29-year-old rookie Matt Gage finished off the shutout, allowing just one more hit with each man pitching a scoreless inning.
It was the 10th win in the past 12 games for the Blue Jays. The Royals will now have have to deal with Alek Manoah and his six wins and 1.98 ERA on Tuesday in the second game of this three-game series.