Published April 14, 2024

Justin Turner goes 3 for 4, drives in three runs as Blue Jays shut out Rockies 5-0

By  John Chidley-Hill

Justin Turner was signed by the Blue Jays in the off-season to add a reliable bat and experience to Toronto's clubhouse. He's delivered on both so far, but he believes the best is yet to come.

Turner went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs as the Blue Jays shut out the Colorado Rockies 5-0 on Sunday. Toronto scored 14 runs in the three-game series and Turner said that shows a lot of promise.

"The offence is kind of scratching the surface," said Turner. "I think there's a whole lot more in the tank and when we get going and clicking on all cylinders, it's going to be a fun offence to be a part of."

Turner signed a US$13-million, one-year deal with the Blue Jays on Jan. 30, effectively replacing Brandon Belt as the team's designated hitter.

That investment has paid off for Toronto, as Turner is hitting .386 with an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.095 and eight RBIs. He leads the Blue Jays in all three statistical categories, with left-fielder Davis Schneider tied for the lead in RBIs.

Turner was a two-time all-star with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a co-winner of the NLCS MVP award in 2017 and won a World Series with the Dodgers in 2020.

After the win, Toronto manager John Schneider said the 39-year-old slugger has been like an extra hitting coach for some of the younger players in the clubhouse.

"I just speak from my experience and I have a lot of history against a lot of guys in this league," said Turner. "So game planning and talking about approaches and different swing thoughts that maybe some guys haven't heard before."

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added an RBI single in the third inning as Toronto (8-8) won back-to-back games. Isiah Kiner-Falefa drove in another run with a base hit of his own in the eighth.

Jose Berrios (3-0) struck out seven over seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball. Genesis Cabrera and Nate Pearson preserved Berrios's win with two scoreless innings of relief.

Berrios has a 1.05 earned-run average over 25 2/3 innings so far this season with 21 strikeouts. It's one of the strongest starts to a year the 29-year-old right-hander has had in his eight MLB seasons.

"We are human, we're not going to be 100 per cent every day, but so far I've been able to stay healthy," said Berrios. "I've made the adjustments to compete out there and help our team to get the win."

Kyle Freeland (0-3) gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings as Colorado (4-12) lost the rubber game of the three-game set at Rogers Centre. Victor Vodnik, Jalen Beeks and Anthony Molina came out of the Rockies' bullpen, with the latter giving up a run.

Turner opened the scoring in the first when he poked a single to shallow right field to score George Springer from second. The inning ended when Turner tried to steal second during the next at bat and was gunned down by Rockies catcher Jacob Stallings.

Guerrero tacked on a run in the third when his hit scored Kevin Kiermaier from third base for a 2-0 Blue Jays' lead. Kiermaier had reached base on a single, moved to second on a throwing error by Freeland on an attempted pickoff, and then advanced to third on Springer's sacrifice fly.

Turner struck again two hitters later with a double that scored Guerrero. He cashed in Springer again in the fifth inning, with his third hit on the day dropping into shallow centre field.

Toronto pieced together another rally in the eighth inning, with Ernie Clement, Alejandro Kirk and Kiner-Falefa hitting three singles in a row. Kiner-Falefa's two-out hit brought Clement home for a 5-0 lead.

"You can't just show up and have it happen, said Turner. "We've got a lot of guys working every day and grinding.

"When that pendulum starts to swing the other way, it's going to be a fun offence."

Banner image: Toronto Blue Jays pitcher José Berríos (17) throws against the Colorado Rockies during first inning MLB baseball action in Toronto on Sunday, April 14, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

ON DECK — Chris Bassitt (1-2) gets the start on Monday as Toronto hosts the New York Yankees in the opener of a three-game series.

Carlos Rodón (1-0) will take the mound for New York.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2024.

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