By Tim Wharnsby
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO—The good vibrations from the Toronto Raptors historic Eastern Conference championship Saturday night made its way a few blocks to the Rogers Centre yesterday afternoon.
A little more than 14 hours after the Raptors eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks to book their spot in the NBA final against the Golden State Warriors, the Toronto Blue Jays' bats came alive to halt a four-game losing slide.
Paced by youngsters Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, the Blue Jays pounded out a season-high 17 hits to crush the San Diego Padres 10-1.
Marcus Stroman (3-6) pitched five strong innings before he retired early because of dizziness and nausea due to a flu bug.
“After the Raptors' win I didn't think there was any way we could lose today, just off the buzz and the energy in this city alone," said Stroman, clad in a No. 23 Fred VanVleet jersey after the game. ”It's been pretty crazy.
“VanVleet, (Kyle) Lowry, (Pascal) Siakam, (Kawhi) Leonard, (Marc) Gasol, Danny Green. That's unbelievable what they have done for the city. To witness that was something special. I hope they come back with the championship. Raptors in seven.”
Each Blue Jays player had a Raptors We the North t-shirt on as they boarded a bus to catch their charter flight to Tampa Bay for a three-game series against the Rays.
It was the brainchild of closer Ken Giles, who was part of something similar as a member of the Houston Astros when the Rockets advanced to the Western Conference final a few years ago.
“I'm just trying to show love to the people who show love to us,” said Stroman, when asked about his VanVleet jersey.
“All the teams around Toronto, we're kinda like one unit, kind of vibe off each other. We couldn't be more proud of them.”
Guerrero banged out four hits, including his third homer in as many games since being recalled from triple-A on Friday, and veteran first baseman Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and a three-run shot in the eight.
But the afternoon belonged to rookie second baseman Cavan Biggio. The son of Baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was called up with Gurriel on Friday. Biggio had gone 0 for 6 with three strikeouts in his first two games.
But he busted out for his first hit, a single in the second inning that squeezed between Padres first base Wil Myers and second baseman Greg Garcia, then smacked a four-seam fastball off reliever Matt Wilser down the right field line for his first homer.
“You want to get that first hit," Biggio said. "You want to get that monkey off your back. I felt I could finally exhale.”
Biggio showed off the two baseballs from his career firsts to his father and family after the game.
He was having dinner with them on Saturday and watched the Raptors game.
“It was a pretty insane walk back home," he said. ”It just goes to show you how fired up a city can get about a team.
“It's something that we can do here.”
There was a video tribute for the Raptors shown on the scoreboard in left-centre field that brought the crowd of 24,462 to its feet at the end of the first inning.
“It was history," Aaron Sanchez said. ”For a franchise that has never been to the finals and then to win at home was so cool.
“I have been here for five years, and they have been a good team. I'm sure others go back to the Vince Carter years and the old time days. It's good for everybody in the city, the country. Leaving the building brought me back to the days we were in the playoffs. The city has come to life.”
In other interleague action yesterday, the N.Y. Mets edged Detroit 4-3 and Colorado nipped Baltimore 8-7.
In AL action, Tampa Bay doubled Cleveland 6-3; Boston dumped Houston 4-1; Minnesota shut out the Chicago White Sox 7-0; Kansas City shaded the New York Yankees 8-7 (10 innings), the L.A. Angels got past Texas 7-6; and Oakland crushed Seattle 7-1.
Over in the NL, Washington downed Miami 9-6; the L.A. Dodgers dumped Pittsburgh 11-7; Milwaukee routed Philadelphia 9-1; Cincinnati blasted the Chicago Cubs 10-2; Arizona defeated San Francisco 6-2; and Atlanta nipped St. Louis 4-3 (10 innings).