Blue Jays win final two spring games before MLB suspends operations

The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 hours before MLB spring training was suspended.

The Toronto Blue Jays won their last two spring training games before Major League Baseball suspended operations Thursday because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette hit home runs as a Blue Jays split squad beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 in Bradenton, Fla.

Meanwhile, at Dunedin, Fla., another Blue Jays split squad defeated Canada’s national junior team 22-6.

MLB said Thursday that it had cancelled the rest of its spring training games and postponed the start of the regular season by at least two weeks in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The season was scheduled to start March 26, which would have included the start of a four-game series between the Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre.

At Bradenton, the Pirates scored two runs in the first inning off an RBI double from Bryan Reynolds and a run-scoring groundout from Josh Bell, then went up 3-0 on Reynolds’ solo shot off Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton in the bottom of the third.

Guerrero got the Jays on the board with a leadoff homer off Pirates started Joe Musgrove in the top of the fourth, and Forrest Wall made it a one-run game with an RBI single later in the inning.

Bichette’s one-out homer in the top of the fifth tied the game. then the Jays took the lead in the sixth on a two-run single from Brock Lundquist.

Kevin Newman’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth cut Toronto’s lead to 5-4, but Toronto scored two more in the top of the eighth on a Santiago Espinal double and a Kevin Smith single.

Pittsburgh’s Cole Tucker capped the scoring with a solo homer off Justin Miller in the bottom of the eighth.

Thornton allowed three earned runs on seven hits over three innings. Nate Pearson pitched the fifth and sixth to pick up the win, allowing one run on two hits while striking out two.

Kirby Snead pitched a one-hit ninth to pick up the save.

At Dunedin, Orelvis Martinez and Kevin Vicuna each had four runs batted in in Toronto’s win over the Canadian juniors. Rowdy Tellez, Vicuna, Jake Brodt and Gabriel Moreno all hit home runs.

Jordan Romano picked up the win.

Owen Caissie had a homer and Russell Young had two RBIs for the juniors.

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