Nate Pearson strikes out eight in season debut with triple-A Buffalo

Dan Shulman and Pat Tabler speak after the Toronto Blue Jays loss to the Oakland Athletics about how effective Trent Thornton has been and what has led to his improvement.

An adductor strain prevented Nate Pearson from breaking camp with the Toronto Blue Jays, but now that he's healthy, the hard-throwing right-hander is pitching in triple-A waiting for a chance to return to the majors.

And based on his first start with the Buffalo Bisons, that opportunity could come sooner than later.

Pearson struck out eight and allowed one earned run on four hits in 3.2 innings Tuesday, helping the Bisons defeat the Worcester Red Sox 6-1 in the season opener. The 24-year-old threw 78 pitches -- 53 for strikes -- in his first game action since his two scoreless innings in Game 2 against the Rays in the wild-card round last September. His eight strikeouts were split evenly with four catching batters looking and the other four on swing-and-misses.

“It was mainly fastball-slider, but I threw a couple of really good changeups throughout the game and it kind of helped me out a lot,” said Pearson after the game, via's John Pullano. “Each pitch flashed pretty good, but I think it was the heater that carried me throughout the outing.”

The Bisons scattered 12 hits in the game with outfielders Forrest Wall and Josh Palacios each collecting two RBIs to lead the offence. In all, seven batters picked up hits and five -- Wall, Palacios, Breyvic Valera, Juan Graterol and Logan Warmoth -- collected two.

“The players were so excited to get on the field and play in a game and get into a competition that when they go out there, they were very locked in,” said Bisons manager Casey Candaele after winning his debut game, via Pullano.

The team is playing the season in Trenton, N.J., with the Blue Jays moving to Buffalo's Sahlen Field beginning with a homestand on June 1. The Bisons and Red Sox will play the second game of a six-game series Wednesday with left-hander Nick Allgeyer starting for Buffalo. To limit travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the minor leagues are playing full-week series with every Monday off this season.

Right-hander Alek Manoah, the team's No. 6 prospect, will make his triple-A debut with a start on Thursday.

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