Jays Win Spring Opener

Chacin at work Friday

Earlier this spring Jays manager John Gibbons told his club they must win by playing small ball, get good pitching and play good defense. On Friday afternoon the Jays did just that in their spring opener at Bill Hammonds Stadium.

The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-2 due to a four run third inning, in which the Jays got just two hits off the Twins pitcher J.C. Romero. Gabe Gross started the rally as he was hit by the pitch with one out and Reed Johnson followed with a walk. The runners then advanced to second and third base on a Russ Adams ground out to first base, as Orlando Hudson walked to load up the bases for first baseman Eric Hinske. The first baseman worked the count to 3-1 before drawing a base on ball to score Gross and give the Jays the early 1-0 lead. Alexis Rios, who was the designated hitter for this afternoon's contest, lined a single on a 3-1 count off Romero scoring Johnson and Hudson. Frank Menechino followed with a single to left of his own to score Hinske which capped the four run inning.

Gustavo Chacin, who is battling for a spot in the Jays rotation, started the game despite fighting a fever, and pitched two scoreless innings allowing two hits and striking out two.

''I wanted to start this game,'' said the left-hander.

Chacin, who broke four bats in two innings of work, said after the game that he wants to make the team this year and is being motivated by that to work as hard as he ever has.

''He's one of our up-and-coming guys'' said manager John Gibbons after his left hand starter.

Scott Downs, who was signed to a minor league contract in December, gave up the Twins' two runs in the third. Lew Ford hit a one-out triple, and Downs walked Matt LeCroy, the third straight walk in the inning, which forced in a run. Jacque Jones drove in the second run with a groundout to cut the lead to 4-2.

The Jays scored once more in the fourth inning as Reed Johnson lined a single to left field scoring Guillermo Quiroz who doubled earlier in the inning.

Manager John Gibbons threw out several of the candidates fighting for the few remaining pitching spots, and all the candidates performed well in their first turn on the mound. Ryan Glynn, and Chad Gaudin pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth inning respectively as they were then followed by several spring training invitees. Mike Nannini and Spike Lundberg pitched the sixth and seventh inning without allowing a run, and Canadian Vince Perkins had an impressive performance in the eight inning as he struck out two batters. When Gibbons was asked to describe Perkins outing he used just two words.

"Jeez…Overpowering."

Matt Whiteside, who is expected to be the closer at Triple-A Syracuse came in the ninth inning with a three run lead and retired the side in order to hold on to the 5-2 lead and give the Jays a victory in their first spring training game of the year.

Stars of the Game

Reed Johnson: 1-2 R RBI
Eric Hinske: 1-2 R RBI
Alexis Rios: 1-3 2RBI
Gustavo Chacin: 2IP 2H 0R 0BB 2SO
Vince Perkins: 1IP 0H 0R 0BB 2SO

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