MONTREAL — The Toronto Blue Jays won’t have much time to recover from a pair of pre-season losses to the Boston Red Sox at Olympic Stadium.
After their 7-4 loss on Saturday afternoon, the Blue Jays jetted back to Florida, where they open the American League regular season on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"This is part of the life," said Toronto centre-fielder Kevin Pillar. "In an ideal situation, this woudn’t be the way to start opening day.
"But if you can’t get excited about opening day, regardless of what the travel was like the day before, you’re in the wrong industry because opening day is the most exciting day of the year."
The Blue Jays will be looking at least to repeat their feat of a year ago, when they surprised many by making the playoffs for the first time in 22 years and then reaching the American League Championship Series. Some baseball observers think Toronto could go to the World Series this year.
For a third year in a row, the Blue Jays ended the pre-season with a pair of games at Olympic Stadium. Big-league ball hasn’t been played regularly in the city since the Montreal Expos left for Washington after the 2004 season.
The Red Sox were a popular draw this year with the crowd of 53,420 on Saturday topping the 52,682 that turned out for Boston’s 4-2 win on Friday night. The two-game total was 106,102.
"It simulates what it’s like to play in regular season games," said Toronto-born, Montreal-raised Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin. "Packed houses, under the lights.
"Obviously you want to win, but these games didn’t count in the standings. It didn’t happen, but we’re looking forward to starting the season on the right track. The guys are in good spirits. We’re ready to go."
Toronto scored twice off Sean O’Sullivan in the third inning as Martin lined a single to right to score Darwin Barney. Josh Donaldson followed with a single to score Roemon Fields, who was pinch-running for Pillar.
Hanigan opened the fifth with a home run to left field off Shane Dawson. Jackie Bradley singled and scored on a Josh Rutledge double.
That chased Dawson for Chad Jenkins, who allowed Mauricio Dubon to single home Rutledge, Travis Shaw to single in Dubon and Pablo Sandoval to plate Blake Swihart with a sacrifice fly.
O’Sullivan had six strong innings for Boston.
"He threw strikes, had decent stuff and, for a guy who is going to provide depth for us, at least to begin the season, it was good to see him go out and throw the ball over the plate the way he did," said Boston manager John Farrell.
The Blue Jays got two back in the seventh off Tommy Layne. Mike Reeves swung at a third strike but got to first on a wild pitch and Richard Urena scored on a throwing error. Randy Tellez drove in Reeves with a double.
The Red Sox got one run off Anthony Varvaro in the eighth when Sandy Leon’s sacrifice bunt scored Travis Shaw from third. Boston added another insurance run in the ninth when Swihart drove in Rusney Castillo off Casey Lawrence.
Notes: A pre-game ceremony had a tribute to Jim Fanning, the first general manager of the Expos, who died last April. The Expos’ original owner, Charles Bronfman, with his son Stephen — one of the businessmen trying to bring the Expos back — and former star pitcher Steve Rogers took part. A Fanning banner hung on the left field wall.