Canadians make history on MLB Opening Day

For the second consecutive year, Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) recorded a save for the Toronto Blue Jays on Opening Day.

March 31, 2023

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

One Canadian homered to tie a major league record.

Another collected a win on their first big league Opening Day.

And yet another earned a save.

So it was a very successful Opening Day for Canadians in the majors on Thursday.

Here’s a rundown:

-When St. Louis Cardinals slugger Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) belted a two-run home run off Toronto Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah in the third inning of yesterday’s season opener, it was his fourth consecutive Opening Day with a home run. This ties a major league record held by Yogi Berra, Gary Carter and Todd Hundley, according to senior MLB writer Ryan Fagan.

-The Blue Jays won their season opener, 10-9, over the Cardinals on Thursday. For the second consecutive year, Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) pitched a scoreless ninth for the Blue Jays to record the save. He becomes the first Canadian pitcher to record saves on back-to-back Opening Days for a Canadian club. For the record, Romano has now appeared in four consecutive Opening Day games for the Blue Jays. In each of those appearances, he has tossed one inning, not allowed a hit and struck out two batters. In 2021, he was the winning pitcher in the Blue Jays’ 3-2, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

-Right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) relieved Manoah in the fourth inning yesterday and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. When Romano entered the game in the ninth, it became the first time in Blue Jays’ history that two Canadians have pitched for the club on Opening Day.

-Also with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) playing first base for the Blue Jays (and going 2-for-4 with three RBIs), it marked the first time that three players born in Canada have suited up for the Blue Jays on Opening Day.

-He’s not Canadian, but George Springer had five hits to become the first Blue Jay to record five hits on Opening Day. He also had four runs. With that, Springer became the first player in American League history to have four runs and five hits on Opening Day.

-The Blue Jays collected a total of 19 hits against the Cardinals on Thursday, which set a team record for most hits on Opening Day. The previous record was 16, which they recorded in their first ever game on April 7, 1977 against the Chicago White Sox on a snowy day at Exhibition Stadium. Dave McKay (Vancouver, B.C.) started at third base for the Blue Jays in that game and had two hits.

-Elsewhere on Opening Day, left-hander Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) hurled 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief for the Pittsburgh Pirates and picked up the win for his club in their 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. It was the first Opening Day appearance of the 31-year-old Zastryzny’s career. It was also the first time he had been on a big league roster on Opening Day.

-Right-hander Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.), Zastryzny’s Canadian World Baseball Classic teammate, struck out two while pitching a scoreless seventh inning in relief for the Seattle Mariners in their 3-0 win over the Cleveland Guardians in their season opener on Thursday. The M’s scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the eighth, so Brash narrowly missed out on getting the win. Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) batted fifth for the Guardians and went 0-for-3.

-Philadelphia Phillies manager and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) became the first Canadian to manage a big league game on Opening Day since George Gibson (London, Ont.) on April 17, 1934. Thomson’s Phillies lost 11-7 to the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

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