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Dodgers rout Jays as Ohtani makes first appearance in Toronto since free-agency snub

Shohei Ohtani smashed a homer as the Los Angeles Dodgers routed Toronto 12-2 on Friday, months after he turned down a lucrative free-agent offer from the Blue Jays.

Max Muncy’s three-run homer was part of a six-run third inning as Los Angeles (17-11) won its fifth straight. Will Smith had a home run, an RBI double, and a sacrifice fly as the Dodgers racked up 19 hits.

Muncy, Freddie Freeman, Gavin Lux and Mookie Betts drove in runs with base hits and Andy Pages added a sacrifice fly for the final run of the game.

Gavin Stone (2-1) allowed just two hits over seven innings, allowing a run and striking out two. Nick Ramirez threw two scoreless innings of relief.

Danny Jansen had a home run in the fourth inning as Toronto (13-14) absorbed its fourth consecutive loss. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in another run with a ground out in the eighth.

Chris Bassitt (2-4) floundered through 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits and three walks, striking out four. His earned-run average ballooned from 3.90 to 5.64 in the brief start.

Trevor Richards, Brendon Little, Nate Pearson, Tim Mayza and Erik Swanson came out of the bullpen before third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa moved to the mound to finish out the game and spare a pitcher’s arm.

Ohtani was loudly booed by the sold-out Rogers Centre crowd of 39,688 when Los Angeles’s starting lineup was announced but former Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez was warmly cheered.

Toronto had been in the running to sign Ohtani in the off-season but the highly prized free agent ultimately chose to go to the Dodgers, signing a 10-year, US$700 million contract on Dec. 11. It is the largest contract in professional sports history.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider said before the game he wasn’t sure how fans would react to Ohtani’s first appearance in Toronto since the free-agent snub.

“Fans are going to think whatever they’re going to think,” said Schneider. “But he didn’t do anything wrong here, you know what I mean?”

The Blue Jays faithful clearly didn’t forget the slight, however, loudly booing Ohtani for all of his at bats.

He was unfazed by the jeers, smashing the third pitch he saw to deep right field in the first inning. His seventh of the season on an 83.2 m.p.h. Bassitt slider flew 360 feet.

The Dodgers feasted on a third-inning rally to build an impressive lead.

Freeman singled to score Betts from second and advance Ohtani to second. Smith then came to the plate, stroking a single to left that scored Ohtani and move Freeman to third.

Muncy’s towering home run to deep right field cleared the bases for a commanding 6-0 Dodgers lead with no outs. His fifth of the year was launched at a 42 degree angle with an exit velocity of 107.6 m.p.h., travelling 366 feet.

Hernandez singled for L.A.’s seventh consecutive batter to reach base – all before Toronto could record an out – but Bassitt then fanned James Outman and induced a Pages flyout. Lux’s base hit drove in Hernandez as the Dodgers went through their entire batting order in the inning.

Bassitt walked Betts, the 10th batter he’d faced in the inning, ending his night. Richards then induced an Ohtani groundout to first base but the damage was done, with the Blue Jays giving up six hits, two walks, three stolen bases, and six runs in an inning.

Smith kept L.A. rolling in the fourth inning with his second home run of the year. His line drive to left field came on an 80 m.p.h. change-up from Richards. The hard hit ball had an exit velocity of 108 m.p.h. and travelled 360 feet for an 8-0 Dodgers lead.

Jansen answered for Toronto and brought the fans back to life in the fourth with his first homer of the year. He worked Stone to a full count before taking a 93.8 m.p.h. sinker to deep left field.

The Blue Jays catcher missed the start of the season with a broken hand.

Betts drove in another run for Los Angeles in the fifth, doubling home Pages.

Muncy cashed in Smith an inning later, with his base hit driving in the Dodgers catcher. A Pages sacrifice fly gave Muncy ample time to trot home for an 11-1 Dodgers lead.

Toronto cut into that sizable advantage when Guerrero grounded out to shortstop Miguel Rojas, who chose to throw to first instead of home, allowing Cavan Biggio to cross the plate.

Smith added one more run in the ninth with his sac fly off Kiner-Falefa, a position player, scoring Rojas.

ON DECK – Yusei Kikuchi (2-1) will get the start for the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

The Dodgers will counter with Tyler Glasnow (4-1).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.

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