KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Steven Matz held the Kansas City Royals without a hit into the sixth inning, and Jonathan Davis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 5-1 victory in the seven-inning opener of their doubleheader Saturday.
Matz (3-0) only allowed a pair of walks before Nicky Lopez’s blooper to left with one out in the sixth. Matz gave up Andrew Benintendi’s two-out double later in the inning for the only other blemish on an otherwise dominant performance.
The Blue Jays had to settle for a split In the nightcap as the Royals followed veteran Ervin Santana’s spot start with four relief pitchers before Salvador Perez’s two-out, walk-off homer gave them a 3-2 win.
As for the lefty Matz, he struck out five around those two walks and two hits while allowing Kansas City to hit just five balls out of the infield before giving way to Rafael Dolis for the seventh inning.
“It’s fun to get in a groove early in the season, especially when you have a lineup like this,” said Matz, who struggled with injuries throughout his six seasons with the Mets. “It’s been good. I’m just trying to build off each start, take a little from each start and get a little better every time out. That’s the goal going forward.”
Other than a shaky first, the Royals’ Mike Minor matched Matz pitch for pitch most of the way.
Minor (1-1) retired his first two batters before Guerrero and Randal Grichuk hit back-to-back singles and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drilled a two-run double off the wall. That was all the runs until Davis hit his first homer of the year off the left-field foul pole leading off the fifth and Guerrero tagged his second homer of the series leading off the sixth.
“Some good defensive plays behind me,” Minor said. “I felt like the strike zone was a little tight, so a lot of the pitches I was throwing, I wasn’t getting ahead. I was getting behind guys. And then I gave up the home runs.”
Even if Matz didn’t allow a hit all game, his sterling start wouldn’t have been an official no-hitter because teams or pitchers must play at least nine innings to qualify. The decision to shorten doubleheader games to seven innings apiece for the 2021 season means Matz and the Blue Jays would have needed at least two extra innings for it to count.
The only no-hitter in Blue Jays history is Dave Stieb’s 3-0 win over the Indians on Sept. 2, 1990.
“We ran into a good start today. Matz was throwing the ball well,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “He had good late movement — you could tell the guys weren’t seeing the late movement. Really baring in, using the back door.”
The Blue Jays certainly were glad to have Matz’s masterful performance after Friday’s rainout. Their starting rotation has been shredded by injuries just three weeks into the season, including in a 7-5 loss to Kansas City on Thursday night.
In the nightcap, the Blue Jays sent Tommy Milone to the mound against the Royals’ Ervin Santana.
The well-traveled Santana had not taken a big league mound since April 24, 2019, with the White Sox. Santana spent the 2013 season with the Royals and was starting for them for the first time in 2,761 days.
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