ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Steven Matz struck out nine in his Toronto debut, Marcus Semien and Cavan Biggio hit back-to-back homers and the Blue Jays won 6-2 in the home opener for the Texas Rangers on Monday before the largest MLB crowd since the pandemic.
Toronto, 3-1 for the first time since 2015, went ahead 4-0 in the second after Biggio’s solo homer followed a two-out, two-run shot by Semien off Texas starter Mike Foltynewicz (0-1).
The Rangers announced a sellout crowd of 38,283 for their 50th home opener in Texas, the second in the $1.2 billion retractable-roof stadium that has a listed capacity of 40,518 – the announced attendance doesn’t include complimentary tickets. They played all 30 home games in the stadium’s debut season without fans last summer.
Major League Baseball allowed about 28% capacity for the National League Championship Series and World Series games that were played there exclusively last October, with the largest crowd being 11,472. The Rangers said last month they would allow full capacity after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that allowed business in the state to operate at 100% capacity.
Matz (1-0) allowed one run and two hits over 6 1/3 innings, longer than any of the lefty’s six starts last season while going 0-5 for the New York Mets, who traded him to Toronto in January. He threw 62 of 91 pitches for strikes, with one walk, one hit batter and four consecutive strikeouts to end his outing.
Texas got its only run off Matz in the fourth on a single by new first baseman Nate Lowe, whose 10 RBIs in the first four games of a season are a club record. The hit scored Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the first starting shortstop in a home opener for the Rangers other than Elvis Andrus since 2008. Andrus was traded to AL West rival Oakland in February.
Foltynewicz struck out seven (of his first eight outs) and walked three while needing 95 pitches to get through four innings. He went to full counts on six of the first eight batters he faced, and eight overall.
An NL All-Star in 2018 with Atlanta, Foltynewicz made only one start for Atlanta last season, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings before spending the rest of the season at the Braves’ alternate site. He signed a $2 million, one-year contract with the Rangers just before spring training.
Blue Jays: Danny Jansen was replaced at catcher in the seventh, an inning after he took a foul tip off the inside of his right knee.
Right-hander Tanner Roark (2-3, 6.80 ERA in 11 starts last season) makes his season debut for Toronto. The Rangers use their second set of tandem starters when right-hander Dane Dunning, acquired when Lance Lynn was traded to the Chicago White Sox, makes his first Texas start. Lefty Taylor Hearn is expected to follow him.
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