Kevin Kiermaier steals the show in Blue Jays home debut

Apr 12 2023, 2:56 am

For 10 years, Kevin Kiermaier tormented the Toronto Blue Jays as a member of the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays. Now that he’s converted over from the dark side, he’s already endeared himself to the Blue Jays fan base.

The three-time Gold Glove centre fielder wasted no time in testing out the new eight-foot high walls in centre field by stealing a home run in the second inning of the Blue Jays’ home opener against the Detroit Tigers.

He timed this jump perfectly to take away a surefire home run away from Tigers designated hitter, Kerry Carpenter. There’s a reason they call Kiermaier “the outlaw,” because of outright larceny like this in the outfield.

As Kiermaier stretched his arm over the Rogers Centre fence, once he got back to his feet, shortstop Bo Bichette was stunned that his teammate came up with the play. But Kiermaier himself didn’t look all that shocked, because he’s made a career out of making five-star catches.

Blue Jays fans were on their feet after Kiermaier made that highlight catch, but the air was soon let out of the stadium after a three run frame by the Tigers against an unusually shaky Alek Manoah to give Detroit at 3-0 lead.

A few innings later, after stealing a home run, the Blue Jays centre fielder provided a home run into the right field bullpen area. Kiermaier did it all in his home debut as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

His home run was one of five hit by the Blue Jays against the Tigers, which set a new franchise high for home runs in a Blue Jays home opener. Matt Chapman, George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Alejandro Kirk also got in on the long-ball fun.

And in case Blue Jays fans weren’t convinced by his incredible defensive play or contributing on the offensive side of the ball, evidently he’s a closet fan of the Canadian national anthem.

In retrospect, it shouldn’t be all that shocking that Kiermaier made a highlight-reel catch in a Blue Jays uniform. It’s shocking that he put his stamp on this team during the first home game of the season.

Kiermaier made several circus catches in the outfield as a member of the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, but that was when the outfield walls stretched 10 feet high. Now that they’ve lowered the fence in centre field to eight feet, it presents the opportunity for Kiermaier to make even wilder catches in centre field.

George Springer is all too familiar with the outfield at Rogers Centre, but now that he’s moved over to right field, he has a front-row seat to the spectacle that is Kiermaier playing centre field for the Blue Jays.

“I don’t think there’s a wall that he hasn’t tried to climb,” Springer said. “So any spot out there… there’s a good chance he’ll try to climb it.” All it took was one game for Kiermaier to do exactly what Springer predicted.

Thanks in part to Kiermaier’s play, the Blue Jays stormed back for their fourth comeback victory of the season in their eventual 9-3 victory over the Tigers.


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