George Springer hits two home runs in victory over Astros

TORONTO — Welcome to the George Springer experience. The Astros don’t like it like they used to.

Springer was the Blue Jays’ entire offense in Saturday’s 2-1 win over his former club at Rogers Centre, showing the incredible level of his talent with two home runs and a stolen base. A month later, it’s hard not to dream of Springer’s full, healthy first season with the Blue Jays.

In 2021, you’ve only seen flashes of this. Injuries limited Springer to 78 games, and even when the three-time All-Star was in the roster, he spent many games struggling to give the Blue Jays what he had in his tank that night. Springer’s 0.907 OPS and 22 home runs in less than half a season were impressive, but over the course of a full six months, the tally stats will only go up.

“I love it,” Springer said after the win. “As a team, we are in a great place. We played a few close games, but it’s okay. This is a team that has to go through this and understand what it’s like to do it. We’re starting to see that we can. It’s a good start to April, now it’s May.”

These performances are why the answer to replacing Marcus Semien’s production would always be boring. Yes, the addition of Matt Chapman, the emergence of Santiago Espinal, and the overall growth of the lineup will all be part of that solution, but it would never be a one-for-one replacement that fixed everything in an instant. Also, 45 home runs from second base and a third-place MVP is not a hole you just patch up.

Springer’s jump from 78 games to 150+ is the easy way out for an already excellent Blue Jays lineup improving in 2022, and this time it’s Springer dragging that group forward.

With Springer down in 2021, Semien slipped into the lead for 88 games and raced with him, leading a roster that had other All-Stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernández. With the way Guerrero is playing, it looks like we’ll never see a low year from first base, but Bichette has been struggling lately as Hernández comes back from an IL pass with an oblique tension, so Springer returned the favor with some early superstar performances. .

“It’s great what he’s doing,” said businessman Charlie Montoyo. “It’s hard to deal with something like that, because you’re always thinking about the third time [the order] and all these things. The third time, they’re getting George Springer again. It makes us so much better.”

Starting the game with a quick jab to go 1-0 doesn’t hurt either. Springer’s home run at the bottom of the first was the 46th of his career, tying him for sixth in AL/NL history with Jimmy Rollins. Springer is just one behind Curtis Granderson and two behind Ian Kinsler as well, so his climb has some momentum.

“Anytime you can get the first guy on base in an inning, it allows the guys to hit the way they want,” Springer said. “It’s a good place. You always like to be on top, 1-0, but whenever you can get to first base to start an inning it’s huge. ”

Springer’s leadership on this team also doesn’t go unnoticed. At the end of the fifth inning, after going back and forth several times with the referee from home plate, Montoyo was tackled. Montoyo wasn’t necessarily upset by that particular shot, but when he saw Guerrero take a third punch and slam the bat to the ground, he ran off the bench to distract his MVP’s attention.

Besides, if a man is going to watch the latest entries from a couch at the clubhouse, Montoyo is better than Guerrero.

Springer’s message to Guerrero? Stay in the game. His experience runs deep, especially on a championship-caliber team from his Houston days, so Springer is able to step back and see the bigger picture better than the 23-year-old.

This all happened on a night when Springer was resting his legs like DH as well. When center fielder Bradley Zimmer set out to make a diving catch for the first outing of the game, Montoyo joked with Springer that he might just be a DH now. Springer laughed at that, but whether he’s needed in center, right field, or as DH’s bat on an odd day to keep him fresh, he’s got a focus.

“I’m here for us,” Springer said.

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