Fans fill the stands at Globe Life Field during the first inning of a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays, Monday, April 5, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are set to have the closest thing to a full stadium in pro sports since the coronavirus shutdown more than a year ago. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Blue Jays spoil Rangers home opener before largest MLB crowd

Blue Jays spoil Rangers home opener before largest MLB crowd

ARLINGTON, Texas — Steven Matz sensed the buzz from fans when warming up before his Toronto debut, then helped the Blue Jays ruin the home opener for the Texas Rangers before the largest MLB crowd since the pandemic.

Rangers fans didn’t have much to cheer about, other than just finally getting to see their team play a regular-season game in the retractable-roof stadium that opened last year.

Marcus Semien and Cavan Biggio hit back-to-back homers early for the Blue Jays and Matz struck out nine while allowing only one run over 6 1/3 innings in a 6-2 win Monday.

“It was definitely cool, that extra little adrenaline warming up and getting into the game,” Matz said. “It was fun. It felt really good to have fans in the stands.”

The Rangers announced a sellout crowd of 38,283 for their 50th home opener in Texas, the second in $1.2 billion Globe Life Field 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.

“It felt like a real game. It felt like back to the old days when we had full capacity,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Was hoping we’d see how loud our stadium got if we gave them something to cheer about. Unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta, says the large crowd still comes with risk for the fans.

“The fact is people are sitting next to each other, they’re turning to each other and yelling in each other’s faces, there’s going to be (risk) for some infections. The risk for a mass infection occurring or for large numbers to be infected from is certainly much lower than if it was indoors, but even when an event is outdoors, there’s still times where people are indoors. Anybody who’s been to a toilet during a sporting event or a concert knows that.”

“There’s a lot of people packed in together in tight spaces and even though the stadium might be outdoors, that particular setting is going to be more of a concern and that would likely be that the sort of situation where I could envision a larger number of infections occurring.”

Toronto, 3-1 for the first time since 2015, was ahead 4-0 in the second. Biggio went deep to right after a two-out, two-run shot by Semien off Texas starter Mike Foltynewicz (0-1).

Matz (1-0) allowed only two hits, walked one and hit one batter in an outing 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 ended his day with four consecutive strikeouts.

“That’s the way he pitched in spring training. … In command the whole time, that’s what we need,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “First start for the Blue Jays, it was awesome.”

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 franchise record. The hit scored Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who got a huge ovation when introduced as the Rangers’ first starting shortstop in a home opener other than Elvis Andrus since 2008. Andrus was traded to AL West rival Oakland in February.

“It was nerve-wracking. It felt like my debut all over again,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Early in the game was probably the coolest moment of my career to this date.”

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.

“There was just a lot of things happened very quickly to kind of even get a feel,” Foltynewicz said. “ Just the anxiousness, big emotions, how far I came back from the last year and a half. This was a big moment. I’ve very glad I can get this out of the way, and just kind of get the season going and rolling.”

OUCH!

There were six different batters hit by pitches, four Blue Jays and two Rangers. Texas reliever Kyle Cody hit consecutive batters in the sixth, setting up Randal Grichuk’s RBI single. One of the batters hit by Cody was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., on the pinkie, though Montoyo said he was fine. Guerrero had an RBI single in the first that put the Blue Jays ahead to stay.

TRAINER’S ROOM

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. Montoyo said Jansen was already feeling better after the game and was day to day.

UP NEXT

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.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press

Blue Jays

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Texas Rangers' Isiah Kiner-Falefa is safe as Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Cavan Biggio waits for the late throw on an attempted fielder's choice during the eighth inning of a baseball game Monday, April 5, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Just Posted

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

With a ban on sit-in dining once again in place, Las Palmeras owner Andre Lemus is gearing up for more takeout and delivery business. He has also applied to set up an outdoor patio, where dining is allowed under new restrictions. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Big interest in outdoor patios in Red Deer as sit-down dining banned again

City of Red Deer has tweaked its patio regulations to make it easier to get a permit

Artist Delree Dumont has painted an Indigenous mural at St. Joseph High School. (Contributed photo)
Indigenous mural painted on Red Deer high school walls

A new Indigenous mural now sits on the walls of St. Joseph… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley announces proposed new legislation to protect Alberta's mountains and watershed from coal mining at a news conference in Calgary on Monday, March 15, 2021. A group of 35 scientists from the University of Alberta are urging the provincial government to rethink its plans for expanding coal-mining in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta legislature turns down Opposition request to debate bill to protect Rockies

Alberta legislature turns down Opposition request to debate bill to protect Rockies

Premier John Horgan arrives to receive a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty's Foods in Victoria on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. to impose travel restrictions until May long weekend over COVID-19

B.C. to impose travel restrictions until May long weekend over COVID-19

Liz Weston: How the pandemic has shaken up retirement

Liz Weston: How the pandemic has shaken up retirement

Asad Behrawa performs a Muslim call to prayer over a loudspeaker at the Rahma Mosque west of Edmonton on Thursday, April 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Emotions show as call to prayer broadcast during second Ramadan in lockdown

Emotions show as call to prayer broadcast during second Ramadan in lockdown

‘Midnight hour of need’: St. Vincent pleads for global help

‘Midnight hour of need’: St. Vincent pleads for global help

In this image from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
Murder case against ex-cop in Floyd’s death goes to the jury

Murder case against ex-cop in Floyd’s death goes to the jury

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in Ottawa on Monday April 19, 2021. The federal government unveiled spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course for a post-pandemic Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals top up long-term plan for affordable housing

Liberals top up long-term plan for affordable housing

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in Ottawa on Monday April 19, 2021. The federal government unveiled spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course for a post-pandemic Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal Budget 2021: Liberals bank on child care, business aid to prod growth

Federal Budget 2021: Liberals bank on child care, business aid to prod growth

Most Read