Sunday Sports Shorts

By Miguel Mike Medina

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kevin Gausman has been pitching lights out lately, and he continues to do so in his outing against the Seattle Mariners. On Saturday afternoon, Gausman struck out 13 Mariner batters through seven innings. 

Outfielder Daulton Farsho hit a walk-off to win it for the Blue Jays, 1-0. It’s the Blue Jays’ sixth consecutive victory. As for Varsho, it’s the second walk-off hit of his career and the first one as a member of the Blue Jays.

The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets kicked off the second round of the playoffs on Saturday night. Both teams are at full strength, and this is going to be one magnificent series—Devin Booker against Jamal Murray, with both guards being efficient scorers. In Game One, it wasn’t even close. The Nuggets were in command: excellent ball movement and fast pace basketball. Plus, they have more youth and depth than Phoenix, and in this game, you saw that. Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 34 points on a 13-for-24 from the field. Nikola Jokic added a double-double with 24 points and 19 rebounds. Aaron Gordon had a good night with 23 points. Nuggets take Game 1 by the final score of 125 to 107. 

Game Two will be on Monday night as the Nuggets try to go up 2-0, or Phoenix will look to split the series. The winner of this series could potentially go to the NBA Finals to represent the Western Conference. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs have done it. The drought it finally over. John Tavares, the captain, and part of the Maple Leafs Core Four, scored the game series-clinching goal in overtime to send the Maple Leafs to the next round. Maple Leafs won 2-1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning haven’t lost a playoff series in the Eastern Conference since 2019. Maple Leafs wins their first playoff series since 2004. Toronto will play the winner of the Bruins/Panthers series. 

Brandon Belt’s Big Night

By Miguel Mike Medina

Toronto Blue Jays traveled to Yankee Stadium to take on the New York Yankees in a 3-game series on Friday night—two of the best teams in the AL East, alongside the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays. Before the season started, many of us thought the division would be between the Yankees and Blue Jays. The Rays intervened and told the world to “don’t forget that we exist.” It’s still early in the season, but there’s something about this series that will be the start of a fascinating AL East race. Who will strike first in this series?

As of Friday night, it would be the Blue Jays to strike the first punch. Vlad Jr got things started when he hit a two-run home run in the first inning off pitcher Domingo German. Brandon Belt had a good game against the Yankees. He went two for four which included a 2-run home run in the top of the 6th inning to give the Blue Jays a more comfortable lead. In the top of the 8th inning, he hit a 2-run double to bring Bo Bichette and Vlad Jr home. He is responsible for adding four insurance runs for the Blue Jays. They went on to win 6-1.

Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi pitched for six innings, had three strikeouts, and gave up one earned run and two walks. He got the win and improved to 3-0 in the season. Blue Jays tied with the Yankees with a 12-8 record. Game Two of the series will be on Saturday at 1pm in a battle of two good pitchers: Alek Manoah vs. Gerrit Cole. 

Sunday Sports Shorts

Duke was in command against Virginia Tech in this ACC matchup. Duke went on multiple runs throughout the second half. It’s an impressive victory for the Blue Devils as they had former alumni and hall of Famer Grant Hill watching them from the stands. The Blue Devils won 81-65. 

Jason Tatum silenced and stunned Philadelphia with a late game-winning three points to lead the Celtics to victory over the Sixers, 110-107. Joel Embiid finished with a game-high 41 points for the Sixers. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 26 points. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets gave a lot of problems to the Edmonton Oilers’ goalies. Edmonton came back to tie the game 4-4 after trailing 4-0, but the Blue Jackets attacked two more goals in the third period to win the game, 6-4. Connor McDavid finished with 4 points (2 goals and two assists). 

Baseball is back. Spring Training is here. The Mets and Yankees lost their games on the road against the Astros and Phillies. Baltimore Orioles beat Minnesota Twins, 10-5. The Toronto Blue Jays played a great game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Vlad Jr, Santiago Espinal, and Addison Barger all homered on Saturday. Pitcher Yusei Kikuchi played a good game with five strikeouts and no earned runs allowed through two innings. Blue Jays won 9-7. 

Kris Bryant in Toronto?

Third baseman Kris Bryant is a current free agent. Bryant hit .265 with a .353 on-base percentage and 25 home runs in 144 games split between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. Should the Blue Jays land Kris Bryant this offseason? 

After all, the Blue Jays missed an opportunity to get Kris Bryant many years ago. In 2010, the Blue Jays made the all-star third baseman their 18th-round pick, 546th overall, out of Bonanza High School in Las Vegas.

At the time, Bryant committed to the University of San Diego. The Blue Jays, in the first year of a new draft under General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, selected several players considered rigid signs early in the draft and spent a club-record $11.6 million in signing them.

The Chicago Cubs would draft Bryant as the No.2 overall draft pick in 2013, signed for a bonus of $6.7 million. Bryant would win National League MVP and World Series in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs.

Blue Jays landing Kris Bryant would be the George Springer of the infield. Bryant would be a great void to fill in the third base spot. Before Kris Bryant, the Jays considered possibly trading for Cleveland Guardians’ third baseman Jose Ramirez. It’s a risky move because you’re giving up a lot of draft picks for Ramirez. 

The main concern for the Blue Jays is the money. How much are they willing to pay Bryant?  The Blue Jays have signed a seven-year, $131 million extension with star right-hander Jose Berrios and signed former San Francisco Giants starter Kevin Gausman to a five-year deal worth $110 million. 

Toronto also needs to consider Vlad Jr, Bo Bichette, and Teoscar Hernandez for future contracts. In the business of sports, you can’t make everyone happy. The Blue Jays’ front office will need to make some bold decisions. 

The Blue Jays were 91-71 in 2021 and failed to qualify for the playoffs, missing a wild-card spot on the last day of the season.

Blue Jays Sign Jose Berrios To Seven-Year Extension

The Blue Jays have signed an extension with star right-hander Jose Berrios, covering the 2022-2028 seasons, pending a physical. He will be guaranteed $131 mil over the length of the deal. Berrios will opt-out after the fifth year of the deal and has limited no-trade protection.

At July’s trade deadline, the 27-year-old was acquired from the Twins, set to reach free agency after the 2022 season. Instead, the Blue Jays will keep him around for an extended stay, hoping that he anchors their rotation well into the future. This extension runs through 2028, which will be his age-34 season.

Before that trade, Berrios had spent his entire career in the Twins organization since they selected him in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

Berrios could be a solid No. 2 starter for the Blue Jays. We don’t know what will happen with Robbie Ray; therefore, the Jays needed to wine and dine Berrios. Jays have the offense, but they need pitching to win titles. Blue Jays need to start focusing more on the pitching aspect this offseason.

Blue Jays and Off-Season Decisions

The Toronto Blue Jays have some big decisions to make this offseason. Robbie Ray, the frontrunner AL Cy Young Award, and Marcus Semien, Top 5 AL MVP candidate.

It would be phenomenal if the Blue Jays could keep both players. However, knowing the market of Toronto and the business of baseball, Blue Jays might keep one of them or let both of them go. Ray and Semien might or most likely want 5-year, $100 plus million contracts, which would be a risk for Toronto because they need to consider Vlad Jr, Bo Bichette, and Teoscar Hernandez for future contracts. In this business, you can’t make everyone happy.

If only Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien would take a pay cut to help the Blue Jays make a run to the World Series. Blue Jays might see Semien go to the West Coast to play in his hometown in California.

Adding Justin Verlander to the rotation would be a plus for the Blue Jays. Verlander will turn 39 next season. Therefore, a 1-year deal doesn’t sound too bad.

It’s going to be a busy Winter Meeting for the Blue Jays front office. It is by far one of the best free agency classes in baseball history.

Blue Jays Bats’ Not Slowing Down

The Toronto Blue Jays lineup is deadly – Springer, Bichette, Vlad Jr, Hernandez, Semien, etc. They are not slowing down what so ever. Jays pick up where they left off against the Yankees.

Vlad Jr hit his 40th home run. Vlad Sr and Jr are the second father-son combo to reach 40 homers in a season. The other father-son duo is Cecil and Prince Fielder. Marcus Semien hit two home runs against the Yankees. Blue Jays need to sign him in the off-season.

Blue Jays won 8-0 over the Yankees. The Yankees have lost three of their last 10 games after a 13-game winning streak. Yankees are choosing a bad time to get lousy.