Twenty minutes after his debut victory as the Toronto Blue Jays interim manager, John Schneider smelled of lager, and there was evidence of shaving cream and talcum powder around his ear.
But Schneider didn’t mind one bit. It was all part of the post-game celebration that saw Toronto sweep the two-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies with an 8-2 win on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins fired Charlie Montoyo and deputized the 42-year-old Schneider as the club’s new dugout leader. Schneider was informed of his new posting as he was making his way to Rogers Centre to have lunch with his wife and two young sons.
“Love Charlie, and it was a hard day for everyone, but happy that we played the way we did,” Schneider said. “It’s a talented group. You don’t really have to say much. They’re pretty self-motivated. So it was cool, man, for sure.”
With Montoyo running the team in the opener against the Phillies (46-43) on Tuesday and Schneider taking over before 30,853 at Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays (47-42) have won two in a row after winning just once in 10 outings.
“As players, we realize if we played better, Charlie would still be our manager,” said Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling (5-3), who allowed only two hits and struck out six in seven innings, his longest outing of the season.
“I don’t think anybody has a bad word to say about Charlie.”
Atkins addressed the players five hours before game time, and Schneider met with each player individually.
“I’m not going to lie; it caught me by surprise,” Vladimir Guerrero Jr. said. “It’s something you don’t have control over.”
Schneider is a familiar face to Guerrero, and many of the Blue Jays raised in the organization. He managed Guerrero and others at the Single-A and Double-A levels.
“It’s a lot easier to have John here rather than someone I don’t know,” he said.
With the Blue Jays leading 1-0, Guerrero led off the fourth inning by sending his 20th homer over the left-field fence. Teoscar Hernandez followed with a two-run blast to centre two batters later and knocked another two-run shot down the right-field line in the eighth inning.
Guerrero also had a sacrifice fly as part of a two-run fifth inning.
Stripling (5-3) retired the first 11 Phillies before Nick Castellanos smacked a two-out double in the fourth inning. Bryson Stott hit a two-run homer in the seventh, but the runs were unearned because of a Bo Bichette throwing error on a grounder by Rhys Hoskins.
“You want to get the John Schneider dynasty off to a good start,” Stripling quipped.
Schneider managed an aggressive first game. He successfully plotted a hit-and-run with Santiago Espinal at the plate in the third inning. Raimel Tapia and Bichette stole bases in the third and fifth innings, respectively.
“Definitely, something we want to do going forward is kind of forcing the issue at times and being aggressive on the bases,” Schneider said.
The two-game Toronto sweep spoiled Phillies (46-43) interim manager Rob Thomson’s homecoming. The Sarnia, Ont., native became the first Canadian to manage a big-league game in his home country.
His starter, Zack Wheeler (8-5), retired the first six batters he faced. But the Blue Jays ended his night after 4 2/3 innings.
CASEY AT THE BAT
To fill in for Schneider as bench coach, the Blue Jays promoted Casey Candaele, their Triple-A manager in Buffalo.
The 61-year-old Candaele suited up as a utility player in his first three seasons for the Montreal Expos in the late 1980s. He has worked in the Blue Jays organization since 2017.
The Blue Jays begin a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals at home on Thursday, Toronto’s final games before the all-star break.
Kevin Gausman (6-6) makes his first start since taking a line drive off his right ankle on July 2.
The Royals haven’t named their starter for the series opener. They could be without as many as 10 players because of their unvaccinated status, including standouts Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield.