Santiago Espinal and Bo Bichette lead Blue Jays to second consecutive win over Texas Rangers

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There are the predictable runs that if all goes to plan will drive the Blue Jays to playoff contention.

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And then there are the bonus blasts.

Count utility man Santiago Espinal as the leader in that latter category. For the second time in less than 20 hours, Espinal came in off the bench for a clutch pinch-hit double to score a run and help the Jays to a 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.

The Espinal contributions helped the Jays jump out of the gate with a 2-0 start, the first time they’ve managed that since 2016, the previous time they’ve qualified for the playoffs after a full season.

The more gilded bats won’t be going anywhere — and indeed, a 425-foot Bo Bichette homer in the fifth inning was the show stopper on Saturday — a player like Espinal could be huge for the Jays this season.

Coming in to replace Cavan Biggio at second base, Espinal has provided clutch hits on both nights to help keep the Jays offense moving.

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The top of order will be the bread and butter of this offense and just as it was in Friday’s home and season opener was in this game as well. And in the first matinee of the season, they got things started in the first inning with consecutive singles from George Springer, Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Kevin Gausman, making his first start as a Blue Jay, got knocked around some by the Rangers, allowing eight hits in five runs but with some help from his defense only allowed three runs.

Most importantly, he got through five innings to limit some of the workload in the bullpen.

For the second game in a row, Canadian Jordan Romano came in the ninth to earn the save, his 25th consecutive save conversion, equaling the great Tom Henke’s club record.

The Jays will attempt to sweep the Rangers in Sunday’s finale of the three-game series.

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