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USATSI

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award earlier this week. He kept the good times rolling as his regular season resumed on Friday against the Texas Rangers, launching two home runs to become the second player in the majors this year to reach 30.

Guerrero, who now trails Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani for the majors' lead by three homers, delivered his pair of shots as part of a blowout. His first shot came in the first inning against Jordan Lyles, and left the bat at a 100.1 mph exit velocity and traveled 392 feet. His second, against Dennis Santana in the sixth, had a 107.9 mph exit velocity and a 341 foot distance, according to Statcast's calculations.

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Guerrero entered the night hitting .332/.430/.658 (193 OPS+) with the aforementioned 28 home runs and 73 runs batted in. His 4.2 wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference, were more than he compiled in his first two seasons (2.7) combined.

The Blue Jays, for their part, came into the second half with a 45-42 record on the season. That had them tied with the New York Yankees for fourth in the American League East, some eight games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Blue Jays were also 4 ½ games back in the American League wild card race.

In addition to Guerrero's home runs and the Blue Jays' offensive assault, Toronto fans had one other reason to celebrate on Friday night. The Canadian government granted the Blue Jays an exception to return to Toronto on a full-time basis beginning on July 30

The Blue Jays have not played a regular season contest north of the border since September 2019 because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. In the interim, they've called Buffalo, New York and Dunedin, Florida their homes.