MLB: Blue Jays hail Russell Martin with win over Rays

TORONTO — Russell Martin’s favorite Rogers Center memory is shared by many Blue Jays fans: Jose Bautista’s famous “bat flip” in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.

“Just the excitement of the crowd, you could feel the ground shaking and the energy was incredible,” Martin said. It’s truly a moment that stands out more than any other. »

Martin added another memorable moment on Friday when he made the ceremonial pitch in Toronto on Canada Day with the Rays in attendance.

Retired since May 28 This allowed him to say thank you and goodbye to the Jays’ supporters.

Martin was hoping for “some applause and a few laughs” from the full house when the pitch came. Instead, he received a hearty standing ovation and a video tribute in which Bautista was the narrator. The latter ended the video with a “Congratulations” in French.

Popular former manager John Gibbons provided a video testimonial, as did several former Martin teammates.

We were very moved to see the former bankruptcy administrator on site with his wife Elisabeth and their two daughters Emmy and Eva.

During the game, Vladimir Guerrero drove in three runs and the Blue Jays defeated Tampa Bay 9-2.

Guerrero hit a two-run double that made it 4-1 in the third inning. He also shoved a runner home with an optional.

George Springer and Bo Bichette each drove in two runs while Lourdes Gurriel hit a fifth homer.

Jose Berrios (6-4) allowed two carries and eight hits in five innings. He was 0-2 in his three previous starts.

Corey Kluber (3-5) had five carries and seven hits in three innings.

Martin made the honor throw to Blue Jays receiver Gabriel Moreno, who wears the number 55 in honor of Martin.

Mustafa Hassan, the Jays’ dressing room manager, told Martin last season that Moreno was porting his number and put the two in touch by phone.

“It’s fabulous,” said Martin. He called me and I just told him that there are many more hits with this number. I wish him the best. »

Born in Toronto but raised in Montreal, Martin reached .225 with the Blue Jays. In four seasons with them, he hit 66 homers and 211 RBIs and made one All-Star Game appearance.

Martin said playing in Toronto on Canada Day has special taste.

“You can feel the energy of the crowd,” Martin said. It’s very special with all the red shirts. The crowd makes you feel like you’re in the playoffs even though it’s the regular season. »

Martin started his career with the Dodgers before moving on to the Yankees and Pirates before playing for the Jays. Then he played one last time with Los Angeles.

A member of four All-Star teams, he finished his career with a .248 average while hitting 191 home runs and 771 RBIs.

At the end of the game, a very audible portion of the 49,445 fans sang O Canada. The spontaneous gesture touched on Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.

“It’s one of those things that reminds you how great it is to play for a whole country,” said Montoyo.

The Blue Jays were home on Canada Day for the first time since 2019. They have spent most of 2020 and 2021 in Dunedin or Buffalo due to the pandemic.

“We really missed this pitch,” said Cavan Biggio, who scored four and scored two points.

On Saturday there is a double program (12:07 p.m. and 6:07 p.m.).

In connection with the first game, a “bobble head” of Guerrero and his father will be shown, which will be given away to the first 15,000 fans.

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