The 2018 Major League Baseball season is officially underway. The Yankees came to town for four against the Jays to start things off, and we've got some thoughts from the series. Happy reading!
1. Playing the Yankees is going to be tough. This offseason there was a lot of talk about the Bronx Bombers living up to their nickname with the addition of Giancarlo Stanton to a line up of existing home run hitters, like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. It certainly didn't take long for them to do so; Stanton sent a solo dinger into the bleachers in his first regular season at bat as a Yankee. Stanton then homered again later in the game, this time a two-run shot, and Brent Gardener added to the talley with his own in the 8th. Bombers indeed.
2. Josh Donaldson's arm doesn't look so great. There were some concerns about The Bringer of Rain towards the end of spring training, that he had a bum shoulder, and it didn't temper any concerns that he stayed home for the Jays' two exhibition games in Montreal. Opening Day confirmed there is definitely a problem; Donaldson made four or five throws and all of them were muffins. He seems fine to hit, and perhaps the arm issue doesn't hurt too much, but considering the Jays luck with injuries last year it is worrisome. It would be DH duties for Donaldson in game two, three, and four (Yangervis Solarte came in at third base), so it remains to be seen how long JD will be away from 3B. ***Update: Donaldson will be in the lineup at third tonight against the White Sox.
3. Justin Smoak's great 2017 season may have been legit. Prior to last season, Smoak had been an average ballplayer – a good fill-in option with some pop, but not really a reliable starter. In 2017 the South Carolinian got regular playing time and had a break-out season at the age of 30, finishing with 90 RBIs, 38 home runs, a .270 batting average – all career bests by far – and an All-Star Game appearance. Smoak has picked up where he left off last year. He single-handedly beat the Yankees in game four of the series, first by crushing a two-run home run over the outfield wall and then with a grand slam later in the game. For the season he's batting .368 and has eight RBIs, which is a great start.
4. Yangervis Solarte is all energy and good vibes. The 30-year-old Venezuelan came to the Jays from the Padres this off-season and has already made an impact a few games in. He can play all over the infield and has filled in admirably at third base with Josh Donaldson hurting. Solarte's bat helped the Jays get their first win of the season, and he has also been the team's number-one cheerleader in the dugout. Every time the Jays score you'll see Solarte dancing around with a smile from ear to ear; he provides the kind of positive vibes any team needs to keep things light over a gruelling 162-game season.
5. The Jays should have great support from the fans once again. The last two seasons have seen Canada's team finish in the top five for attendance figures and you'll find fans at every away series (especially in Seattle, where Western Canadians take over). Over the last five years the country has really embraced the Jays and this season should be no different. The Dome was loud over the first four games and will be all spring and summer, especially if the team plays more like they did in 2015 and '16.
The Jays lost the first two to the Yankees 6-1 and 4-2 respectively, but fought back to win the remaining two games of the series, 5-3 and 7-4 results. New York has been pegged by many to take it all this season, so good on the Jays for battling tough. Canada's team might just surprise some people this season.