The Blue Jays’ offence was firing on all cylinders Monday night as Toronto opened a three-game series against the Texas Rangers by clobbering the visitors 19-4 at the Rogers Centre.
It was a milestone night in more ways than one for the Jays: 19 runs, 21 hits — eight with runners in scoring positions — and nine doubles all marked season highs, while 13 extra-base hits set a franchise record.
They hammered Rangers starter Ariel Jurado and reliever Adrian Sampson for 13 runs on 14 hits through first four innings. Justin Smoak and Randal Grichuk had four RBIs each, including back-to-back home runs in the third, while Brandon Drury hit his first career grand slam in a fourth inning that saw 11 batters step to the plate. Drury finished the night 2-for-5 with five RBIs.
“These guys can hit, man,” said Smoak. “I feel like I’ve said it since spring training and continued to say it even when we were bad, but as a team I felt like we were always going to be able to hit, and over the past month or so we’ve definitely been able to do that. I feel like we have the right guys here that are capable of doing some crazy things.”
The kids also made their mark with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Danny Jansen combining for six RBIs. Bichette led the pack with a 4-for-6 night that including a pair of doubles.
“People grinding, not giving in. That’s contagious,” said Bichette. “It makes everyone else want to fight harder.”
Every Jays batter had at least one hit, and Bichette added to his long list of firsts by becoming the only major leaguer ever with 15 extra-base hits in his first 15 games.
“This guy just falls out of bed and hits,” Smoak said of the rookie. “When he’s leading off and he’s always on base, it’s always a good thing, too.”
Smoak’s pair of doubles to go with a two-run homer marked the second time the veteran slugger has managed three extra-base hits in a game, the first since 2012. His 19th home run of the season was also his 115th as a Jay, tying Kelly Gruber for 15th in franchise history.
It wasn’t until the seventh that the Jays failed to register a hit. Smoak, Grichuk — a triple short of a cycle — and Hernandez all went down swinging against Rangers reliever Rafael Montero.
The night ended with former Jays catcher Jeff Mathis pitching the ninth against his old team. Mathis has experience that department: He pitched for the Jays in a 14-3 loss to Texas back in 2014.
- Filling the gap: On a night off for the Jays’ four regulars in the starting rotation, new guys Neil Ramirez and Brock Stewart combined for six innings of one-run ball. Ramirez, who signed as a free agent last week after starting the season in Cleveland, needed just seven pitches, all strikes, to retire three batters as the opener. Stewart gave up a solo home run to Nomar Mazara among three hits in his first four innings of work, before a pair of long balls in the fifth by Willie Calhoun and Logan Forsythe knocked him out of the game. Stewart received a standing ovation from many fans as he walked to the dugout. Buddy Boshers and Justin Shafer went the rest of the way.
- Ins and outs: Outfielder Billy McKinney was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo and took Freddy Galvis’ place on the roster, after the shortstop was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds … Right-hander David Paulino, acquired from the Houston Astros as part of the return for Roberto Osuna last summer, cleared release waivers after he was designated for assignment last week.
- Up next: Jays lefty Thomas Pannone (2-5, 6.83) faces Rangers righty Lance Lynn (14-7, 3.60) when the series continues Tuesday, with first pitch at 7:07 p.m.
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Laura Armstrong is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy