Toronto Blue Jays
1976: For a while, in February, it looked as if the National League’s San Francisco Giants would move to Toronto, where there were buyers eager for the club. When the Giants were sold in March to new owners determined to keep them in San Francisco, the American League jumped in to establish Toronto as an American League city, setting up an expansion club, and announced the Blue Jays, who began play the next year.
1977: Big-league baseball came to Toronto on April 7th, when the Blue Jays defeated the Chicago White Sox 9-5 in the snow at Exhibition Stadium. Rookie Doug Ault homered twice in the Jays’ first game, as Bill Singer started and got the win. The Jays did not win much that first season, winning 55 and losing 107. Despite the struggles fans flocked to see the Jays as 1,701,052 fans made their way to Exhibition Stadium to watch the team in their inaugural season, establishing a new record for an expansion club.
1978: The Blue Jays would finish in last place again while losing 102 games in their second season, but there were signs all around of a brighter future. Part of that future was Jim Clancy, who won ten games, including a win on Jacket Day in front of 44,327, including Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on April 22nd.
1979: The Blue Jays were still experiencing expansion pains posting a 53-109 record, and finishing in last place, but the future continued to develop as SS Alfredo Griffin took home a share of the Rookie of the Year award while batting .287 with 179 hits and 21 stolen bases.
1980: With new manager Bobby Mattick the Blue Jays avoid 100 losses for the first time with a record of 67-95. Although the Jays finished in last place, Jim Clancy and Dave Stieb established themselves as the club’s top 2 starters.
1981: In a season split in half by a players’ strike, the Blue Jays combined the worst start and the strongest finish in the club’s five-year history posting a combined 37-69 record, as Dave Stieb became the Jays’ first regular starter to post a winning record, going 11-10 with an ERA of 3.19.
1982: The Blue Jays finish tied with Cleveland Indians for the worst record in the AL East. With a record of 78-84, the Jays had a promising season that saw them post a solid 44-37 record at Exhibition Stadium.
1983: In a season that marked Toronto’s first exposure to pennant fever, 7 of the Blue Jays 8 principal pitchers enjoyed winning seasons as the Jays hitters lead the league in team batting and slugging. The Blue Jays would record its first winning season, taking fourth place with a solid 89-73 record, finishing only nine games out of first.
1984: The Blue Jays put together another solid 89-73 season, which was camouflaged by the Detroit Tigers running away with the AL East title from the start of the season. Doyle Alexander had a great year on the mound, going 17-6 with 262 innings pitched and 11 complete games. Dave Stieb had another exceptional year at 16-8 with an ERA of 2.83, while Jim Clancy and Luis Leal won 13 games.
1985: The Blue Jays won their first division title with a 99-62 record, edging the New York Yankees by two games. Guiding the Jays flight to the top was Doyle Alexander, who won 17 games, including the clinching game on the season’s next to last day. Jimmy Key and Dave Stieb also contributed 14 wins, as reliever Dennis Lamp compiled an impressive 11-0 record. Stieb led the league in ERA, while Key finished fourth. Eight Blue Jays drove in more than 50 runs, with outfielders George Bell (95), Jesse Barfield (84), and Lloyd Moseby (71) pacing the club’s balanced attack. In the ALCS versus the Kansas City Royals, the Blue Jays got off to a fast start winning the first two games in Toronto. After losing Game 3, the Jays used a ninth-inning rally led by Al Oliver to take a 3-1 series lead. Had this series been played the year before, the series would have been over, and the Jays would be heading to the first international World Series. However, it was the first year the LCS had been switched to a best-of-seven format, and Toronto still had to win one more game. That win would not come as the eventual World Champion Royals won the final three games to come back and win the series. Right after the season ended, manager Bobby Cox shocked the Jays when he chose to leave the team to accept the role as General Manager of the Atlanta Braves.
1986: The Jays tenth season saw both Jesse Barfield and George Bell drive in a then club-record 108 RBI. Barfield also became the first Blue Jay to hit 40 homers, while Bell hit 31 dingers and 38 doubles. Tony Fernandez led the club with a .301 average. All three were selected to postseason All-Star teams, and Barfield and Fernandez became the first members of the Blue Jays to win Gold Glove awards. However, inconsistency plagued the starting staff. Jim Clancy lost his final seven decisions while Dave Stieb lost his first six decisions, and finished with a 7-12 record, as the Jays would go on to finish fourth with a disappointing 86-76 record.
1987: After a disappointing 1986, the Jays sprang back stronger than ever. Jim Clancy (15-11, 3.54 ERA) enjoyed his best season yet, as did Jimmy Key (17-8), whose 2.76 ERA led the league. Once again, as in 1985, the team ERA was the AL’s lowest, as the offense remained strong, with George Bell, league RBI leader with 134, being named the AL MVP at season’s end. The Jays led the AL East going into the season’s final series against the second-place Detroit Tigers. However, four straight losses reduced their lead to just one game. Needing to win two of the last three games to take the AL East title, or one win to tie the Tigers and force a playoff, the Jays’ slumping bats remained quiet, as they lost the first two games. In the season finale, Jimmy Key hurled a three-hitter, striking out eight. One of the hits was a home run, and the only run of the game, as the Blue Jays finished in second place with a 96-66 that included a season-ending seven-game losing streak that cost them what would have been their second title in three years.
1988: In a rocky season made worse by George Bell’s feud with Manager Jimy Williams who wanted the unwilling outfielder to serve as the designated hitter, the Jays surged at the end with six straight wins to tie for third place with an 87-75 record, only two games out of first. The season was highlighted by the by ace Dave Stieb’s two consecutive one-hitters in late September. In both games, Stieb did not allow a hit until the eighth inning.
1989: The Blue Jays struggled early, and after a 12-24-start Manager Jimy Williams was fired and replaced by hitting Coach Clarence “Cito” Gaston. A new manager was not the only mid-season change for the Jays. On June 5th, the Jays began a new era of baseball in Toronto with the opening of SkyDome, the first retractable roof domed stadium in baseball history. Both moves seem to work as the Jays begin to get wins and move up in the standings. In August, the Jays would acquire Lee Mazzilli and Mookie Wilson from the New York Mets. The moves sparked the Jays to a club-record 20-win month that saw them surge to the top of the AL East. The Jays would preserve their top of the division perch, and clinch their 2nd playoff appearance with a pair of one-run victories over the Baltimore Orioles at the end of September to finish with an 89-73 record. In the ALCS, the Jays were overmatched and lost in five games to the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics were led by the fleet feet of Rickey Henderson, and the sheer power of Jose Canseco, who in Game 4 hit the longest home run in SkyDome history into the upper deck of LF.
1990: The Blue Jays were unable to combine pitching, hitting and defense to produce a prolonged winning streak. The club held or shared the lead throughout the final month of the season and stayed in the chase until key losses to Boston and Baltimore in the last week ended the team’s pennant hopes, as the Jays settled for second place with an 86-76 record. The highlight of the season came on September 2nd when longtime ace Dave Stieb tossed the first No-Hitter in Blue Jays history. Stieb had come close in the past few years, delivering four one-hitters, but it was not until this game that he finally got the no-hitter he pursued.
1991: During the off-season meeting of general managers, Jays GM Pat Gillick swung a massive four-player trade with the San Diego Padres sending fan favorites Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to the Padres in exchange for 2B Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter. In a second deal, the Jays sent prospects Rob Ducey and Junior Felix to the California Angels in exchange for Devon White and Willie Fraiser. The new Jays helped right away, and the Blue Jays won the AL East by seven games over the Red Sox with 91 wins. Once again, the Jays fall in the ALCS losing in five games to the Minnesota Twins. Jack Morris, a proven postseason winner, shuts down the Jays offense twice before guiding the Twins into the World Series.
1992: In the past few seasons, the Jays flirted with a World Championship team. GM Pat Gillick wanted that championship to come to Toronto, so in the offseason, he signed veteran pitcher, and the prior seasons’ World Series MVP Jack Morris and future Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield. These moves added the experienced leadership the Blue Jays needed for postseason success as four million fans packed the SkyDome to see the Jays make another run at the AL East title. The Jays were done gearing up for the postseason, as a mid-season deal with Mets landed David Cone, who helped lead the way for another 1st place finish in the East, with a record of 96-66. In the ALCS, the Blue Jays took on the mighty and powerful Oakland Athletics again. After splitting the first two at home, the Jays went to Oakland and claimed a 7-5 victory in Game 3 to take the series lead. It looked as if the A’s were going to tie the series up at two games apiece as they held a 5-1 lead heading into the eighth inning. After scoring eight runs in the eighth, the Jays tied the game on Roberto Alomar’s two-run homer in the ninth Inning of Dennis Eckersley, who was almost automatic out of the bullpen. The Jays would win the game in 12 innings to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. After dropping Game 5, the series shifted back to Toronto, where the Jays shelled the A’s 9-2 to earn a trip to their first World Series. In the first International World Series, the Blue Jays would face the Atlanta Braves. After losing Game 1, the Jays were in danger of falling behind 2-0 in the series trailing 4-3 in the 9th Inning of Game 2, which began with the indignity of the Canadian Flag being hung upside down by a US Marine color guard. Pinch hitter Ed Sprague delivered a two-run game-winning home run to tie the series up. When the series moved to Toronto for Game 3, the Toronto fans didn’t react well to their Flag being flown upside-down, many signs displaying the US Flag up-side-down were seen, including shirts handed out with the Canadian Flag saying “This way Up, Eh!” The Blue Jays would win the first World Series game played outside the US in the ninth inning as Candy Maldonado knocked home Roberto Alomar with the winning run. In Game 4, the Jays would grab a 3-1series lead thanks to the dominating pitching of Jimmy Key. After being blown out in Game 5, the Jays were forced to return to Atlanta, where they still needed one win to close out the series. The Jays looked poised to win the World Championship with a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning of Game 6, but the usually reliable Tom Henke let the tying run scored, and the game went to extra innings. In the 11th inning, Dave Winfield knocked home two runs with a double to give the Jays a 4-2 lead, but the Braves would prove pesky scoring a run and had the tying run on base with two outs when Otis Nixon tried to bunt his way on base. Nixon’s bunt would be scooped up by Mike Timlin, who flipped it to 1B Joe Carter, as the Jays claimed their first World Championship. Appropriately in the first International World Series, Catcher Pat Borders would be named series MVP.
1993: The Blue Jays lost many key players from the Championship team, gone were starters David Cone and Jimmy Key, closer Tom Henke, DH Dave Winfield, and SS Manuel Lee. However, GM Pat Gillick wasn’t done drinking his champagne and went on a spending spree again. In the off-season, Gillick added pitcher Dave Stewart, and another future Hall-of-Famer, Paul Molitor, to replace Winfield at DH. With the help of unexpected strong seasons from rookie pitcher Pat Hentgen and 1B John Olerud, who led the AL in hitting the Jays, spread fear throughout the American League. At the All-Star Game, the Blue Jays had seven representatives, yet that wasn’t enough. Gillick re-acquired Tony Fernandez from the New York Mets to fill the hole at SS, and Stolen Base King Rickey Henderson from the Oakland Athletics. The Jays headed on into the postseason finishing the season with the top three batting average leaders in the AL (the only time accomplished in the 20th Century) while posting a 95-67 record. In the ALCS, the Blue Jays took on the Chicago White Sox after taking the first two games in Chicago the Jays appeared to have lost their edge losing Games 3 & 4 in SkyDome. The Blue Jays bounced back, claiming the next two games to head back to the World Series, as ALCS MVP Dave Stewart, and Juan Guzman each won two games. The World Series came back to Toronto, and this time the opponents were the Philadelphia Phillies. The Blue Jays took two of the first three games and had a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 at Philadelphia. That game would end up being the highest-scoring World Series game ever, as the Jays scored six runs in the eighth inning to win 15-14 to take a 3-1 series lead. After dropping Game 5, the series shifted back to Toronto, where the Jays watched a 5-1 lead evaporate in the seventh inning. The Jays would enter the 9th inning behind 6-5 as the Phillies brought Mitch Williams in to close out the game and force a seventh and deciding game. However, Williams would struggle, and with one-out, and Rickey Henderson at second and Paul Molitor at first, Joe Carter took an inside 2-2 pitch from over the left-field wall to hand the Jays their second consecutive World Series Championship. It was only the second time in baseball history a World Series was ended with a homer.
1994: The off-season wasn’t the best for the Jays, as they lost many of their top players again. Rookie catcher Carlos Delgado made things enjoyable early on, belting nine home runs in his first month. When August came around, and the strike prematurely ended the season, the Jays were below .500 for the first time in 12 years with a 55-60 record.
1995: The Blue Jays reacquire David Cone, who was coming of a Cy Young season, but with even more of the World Championship teams gone, hopes of another World Series faded quickly. Even Cone would be gone before the season was over as he was traded to the New York Yankees for prospects. The Jays would go on to finish in last place with a 56-88 record.
1996: With most of the Championship players gone, young prospects were brought up to develop their skills for the future, Carlos Delgado was moved to first base, as others who started getting playing time included SS Alex Gonzalez, and OF Shannon Stewart. Starting pitcher Pat Hentgen had another great year, becoming only the 2nd Jays pitcher to reach the 20-win mark while winning the Cy Young Award despite playing on a Blue Jays team that finished in fourth place with a 74-88 record.
1997: New GM Gord Ash tried to make the Jays a champion again right away, signing three-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, catcher Benito Santiago and swinging a significant trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates landing All-Stars Orlando Merced and Carlos Garcia. Unfortunately, Merced and Garcia did not adjust well to the American League and were dealt by mid-season, the Jays were once again sub-par, as World Series manager Cito Gaston was fired with five games to go in a 76-86 last-place season. Not all was lost a great year by Roger Clemens landed the Jays their second straight Cy Young Winner.
1998: Former Blue Jay Tim Johnson was hired as the new manager as they Jays added bash brother Jose Canseco from the Oakland Athletics. Toronto also brought back Tony Fernandez to take over at SS. The Jays had their first winning season in five years, and after an 11-game winning streak came within three games of the wildcard before bowing out with a solid 88-74 record. Roger Clemens won another Cy Young Award but demanded a trade to the New York Yankees following the season.
1999: Spring Training brought on a load of changes, as Roger Clemens was dealt to the Yankees in a trade that added former Blue Jay, and Perfect Game pitcher David Wells, reliever Graeme Lloyd, and young 2B Homer Bush. Meanwhile, Manager Tim Johnson was fired for telling lies to his players regarding his time spent in Vietnam. Jim Fregosi, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1993 World Series, would replace him. All was not lost as Tony Batista acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks exploded on to the scene by hitting 25 home runs in a little over four months with Jays. Meanwhile, rookie closer Billy Koch racked up 31 saves, as the team made a run for the wildcard but fell short with an 84-78 record. However, not was all rosy as OF Shawn Green became the first 30-30 man in Blue Jays history, and then demanded a trade. Green would end up being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Raul Mondesi.
2000: Even with the loss of Sean Green, the Blue Jays were all power leading the AL with 244 HR. Carlos Delgado, who won the Hank Aaron award hitting 41 home runs, and driving in 135 RBI led the powerhouse lineup. Delgado would not be alone as Tony Batista, Brad Fullmer, and Jose Cruz Jr. all hit more than 30 homers, as the Jays tied a Major League Record. Leading the way on the mound was David Wells, who won 20 games and had the Jays in playoff contention again. However, the Jays would fall short again with an 83-79 record. Following the season manager, Jim Fregosi was replaced by longtime Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez. Also, the Blue Jays were forced to deal way another unhappy player. This time, David Wells was traded to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Mike Sirotka, and OF Brian Simmons, each would never play a game for the Blue Jays.
2001: The Blue Jays kicked off their 25th season in high style on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico. It was the first regular-season game on the Island that was the home of such baseball greats as Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Roberto Alomar, a vital cog of the Blue Jays Championship Teams and is also the home of current Jay Carlos Delgado. The Jays won the game 8-1 over the Texas Rangers, thanks to superior pitching by Esteban Loaiza, and home runs by Shannon Stewart and Tony Batista. The Jays would play solid baseball the first two weeks of the season but began to struggle with mediocre pitching, which was complicated because Mike Sirotka was injured before even being acquired from the White Sox and would miss the entire season. One of the heroes of that first game, Tony Batista, would also struggle and be released in the middle of the season. The Jays would finish the season with an 80-82 record, as young prospects called up at the end of the season helped the team finish the year on a positive note.
2002: The Blue Jays would get off to a miserable start posting a 34-52 record at the All-Star Break, as manager Buck Martinez was fired and replaced by Carlos Tosca. In the second half, the Jays would give fans a reason to hope posting a 43-32 record in the second half, including 16 wins in their last 20 games to end the season in third place with a 78-84 record. Keying the second-half turnaround was Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske and Josh Phelps, who had an incredible 58 RBI in 74 games after being called up from the minors. On the mound, Roy Halladay would also have a breakout season representing the Jays at the All-Star Game while posting a solid 19-7 record.
2003: The Blue Jays would stumble out of the gate with a terrible 10-18 record through the end of April, as ace pitcher Roy Halladay was 0-2. However, on May 1st Halladay would win his first game as the Blue Jays caught fire, winning 21 of 29 games in May to put them in the race for the AL East. The Jays continued to play well in June as Halladay went on a 15-game winning streak. While Halladay was dominating on the mound, Carlos Delgado supplied the power as he was on record RBI pace with 97 at the All-Star Break. After the All-Star Break, the Jays were forced to make a tough decision and traded free agent to be Shannon Stewart to the Minnesota Twins, which led to the Jays going into a slump as their record fell back to .500. The Jays would recover to finish the season on a strong note as Halladay was nearly unhittable in September, finishing with a 22-7 record to claim the Cy Young award as the Jays finished in third place with a solid 86-76 record. Meanwhile, Delgado would finish a strong second in MVP voting, with many feeling his 42 home run 145 RBI season being stronger than that of Alex Rodriguez, who won the MVP despite playing for the last-place Texas Rangers.
2004: The Blue Jays who entered the season with high hopes and a new look and new colors got off to a terrible start winning just three of their first 14 games, and never recovered. Pat Hentgen, the 1996 Cy Young winner, returned to the team hoping to revitalize his career would end retiring halfway through the season with a miserable 2-9 record and an ERA of 6.95. As the Jays toiled, there were few bright spots as Carlos Delgado had a disappointing season by his standards knocking in just 99 RBI, as the Jays stellar offense could not get going, finishing 12th in the American League in runs scored and team batting. Meanwhile, reigning Cy Young winner Roy Halladay only mustered an 8-8 record while missing two months with a tired arm, as the Jays team ERA ranked 11th in the AL. All of this would eventually lead to the firing of manager Carlos Tosca, who was replaced by John Gibbons for the final six weeks of the season. Under Gibbons, the Jays would not fair much better as they ended the season in last place with a terrible record of 67-94. Following the season, the Jays began to refocus their efforts allowing Carlos Delgado to leave through Free Agency as they tried to focus on their young pitching prospects. At the same time, they became the lone team to play north of the border as their Canadian cousins in the NL the Montreal Expos moved to Washington.
2005: After a disappointing season, the Jays retooled with youth and pitching as Roy Halladay returned from a disappointing season and was back in Cy Young form. Rookie Gustavo Chacin was solid in his first full season in the Majors with a 13-12 record and a 3.72 ERA, as the Jays got off to a solid start with a 13-12 April. On offense, the Jays leader was now Vernon Wells, who hit 28 homers and drove in 97 RBI as the Jays played competitive baseball all season. One problem that prevented the Jays from being better and challenging the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox was their bullpen as closer Miguel Batista was erratic all year, blowing several vital saves. Also hurting the Jays would be the loss of Roy Halladay, who at 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA seemed heading for another Cy Young Award when his season came to end July 9th on a line drive off the bat of Kevin Mench of the Texas Rangers. Despite losing Halladay, the Jays continued to play solid baseball and stayed near .500 all season, finishing at 80-82 in third place. Following the season, the Jays became big spenders on the Free Agency market signing starter A.J. Burnett and closer B.J. Ryan to strengthen their pitching staff. They also acquired sluggers Lyle Overbay from the Milwaukee Brewers and Troy Glaus from the Arizona Diamondbacks in blockbuster deals that had caught the attention of everyone in baseball as the Blue Jays served notice they planned to make a run for the postseason in 2006.
2006: The new acquisitions helped bring renewed excitement to Toronto as the Blue Jays hoped to make a run at the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for AL East superiority. While the Jays played well early against the Red Sox, they struggled against the Yankees, as they ended the first month with an ordinary 12-11 record. The Jays played better in May and June as Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, B.J. Ryan, and Alex Rios were all on the way to putting together All-Star Seasons as the Jays ended the first half with a 49-39 record, and were within five games of the top of the AL East. However, the second half would see turmoil as Shea Hillenbrand was traded to the San Francisco Giants after an ugly incident with Manager John Gibbons that had the two exchanging verbal jabs in the media. A few weeks later, Gibbons exchanged actual jabs with pitcher Ted Lilly down the hall from the dugout as slowly faded out of the race in August. Along the way, the Jays continued to reshape their roster trading Eric Hinske to the Red Sox. Looking to finish the season strong, the Blue Jays continued to play hard in September as chasing down the Red Sox and ended the season in second place with a solid record of 87-75. Following the season, the Jays continued their commitment to keeping star players. They signed Vernon Wells to a seven-year contract worth $126 million while landing Free Agent Frank Thomas to add even more punch to a potent lineup.
2007: After a strong season, the Blue Jays entered the season hoping they could make the next step and get back into the playoffs. However, in the AL East, it continued to be hostel territory as the Boston Red Sox, with stronger pitching staff got off to a fast start. Meanwhile, the Jays played mediocre baseball in April, ending the month with a record of 13-12, as closer B.J. Ryan was lost for the season with Tommy John surgery on his elbow. In May, the Jays stumbled, losing nine straight games to start the month, as most of their starting line up was on the DL, while they dropped ten games behind the first-place Red Sox. The Jays would turn things around but get back over .500 and into the Wild Card race would not be easy, a feat they would not achieve until Dustin McGowan’s one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies on June 24th. Four days later, Frank Thomas, who was acquired in the off-season to fill the Jays need for a DH made history by hitting his 500th career Home Run against the Minnesota Twins on the road; he would later be ejected for arguing as the Jays lost 8-5. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, they would be eaten alive by their division again as they finished in third place with a record of 83-79.
2008: The Blue Jays had one of the best pitching staffs in the American League as they posted a 3.49 ERA, which was the best in the Majors. One pitcher helping to pace the Jays was Jesse Litch, who had a breakout season, posting a 13-9 record, highlighted by a 24 inning stretch where he did not allow a run. However, due to a lack of power and runs scored, the Jays would wade through mediocrity most of the season. With three solid teams in their division, the Jays were never a factor in the playoff race and were even in last place on June 20th with a 35-40 record when Manager John Gibbons was fired. To replace him, the Jays turned back the clock to their glory days by hiring Cito Gaston, who led them to back-to-back World Championships in 1992 and 1993. Under Gaston, the Jays play improved vastly, as they were quietly one of the strongest teams in the second half, posting a 51-36 record the remainder of the season. Roy Halladay won 20 games and finished second in Cy Young voting, as the Jays ended the season in fourth place with an 86-76 record. Following the season, the Jays were hit by devastating news as owner Ted Rogers died on December 2nd after suffering a heart attack.
2009: Wearing a patch on their sleeves for Ted Rogers, the Blue Jays dedicated the season to their late owner. In April, things looked good for the Jays, as they spent much of the month on top of the American League East while winning 14 of their first 20 games. The Blue Jays continued to hold on to first place into May, as they even built a lead of three and a half games on May 18th, as they held a 27-14 record. Reality would strike as they would lose their next nine games. Despite ending May, by taking two of three games against the Boston Red Sox, the Blue Jays would continue to fade in June as they posted a 12-14 record. In July, the Jays would sink down the standing into fourth place and below .500 as they posted an 8-16 record. The Jays’ struggles would continue in August as they were one of the weakest teams in the second half, finishing the year with a disappointing 75-87 record. Following the season, the Blue Jays would fire General Manager JP Ricardi, replacing him with Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos. One of Anthopoulos’ first duties was to get some good prospects in return of Ace Pitcher Roy Halladay, who let Jays know of his desires to play for a contender. Eventually, the Blue Jays would work out a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that saw them get Kyle Drabek, Travis D’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor in return.
2010: After the dust settled on the Roy Halladay trade, the Blue Jays were again seeking an identity as they played in the toughest division in baseball, knowing from the start the playoffs would once again be a long shot. However, with Manager Cito Gaston in his final season, the Jays’ goal was to be as competitive as possible. Early in the season, the Home Run was the story, as Jose Bautista came out of nowhere and had one of the best offensive seasons in the history of the Blue Jays. In 2004, Bautista was on five different rosters; he was acquired by the Blue Jays in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a mediocre career, Bautista suddenly became the premier slugger in the majors, with 54 home runs setting a new franchise record in Toronto, while leading the majors and winning the Hank Aaron Award. The longball was the story all year for the Blue Jays, as they set a new team record with 257 home runs, tied with the 1996 Baltimore Orioles for the third-most ever in MLB history. Along with Bautista, the Jays had seven players Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay, John Buck, and Edwin Encarnacion hit at least 20 home runs. Through the first half, the Jays had their ups and downs, as they started with a 12-12 record in April. They would make a strong run in May, winning 19 games. However, they suffered a June swoon posting a 9-17 mark. One weekend in August they gave fans plenty to cheer about at Rogers Centre, as Catching Prospect J.P. Arencibia made his major league debut, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, including a home run hit on the first pitch he saw, as the Jays outslugged the Tampa Bay Rays 17-11 on August 7th. A day later, it was a classic pitching duel that almost saw history in Toronto, as Brendan Morrow came within one out of a no-hitter, string out 17 batters as the Jays beat the Rays 1-0. While never in the playoff chase it was a successful season for the Blue Jays as they posted an 85-77 record while finishing in fourth place, as Cito Gaston won both his last game at Rogers Centre, as the Jays beat the New York Yankees 8-4, four days later in his final game against the Minnesota Twins on the road the Jays won win again 2-1. The Blue Jays would name John Farrell as their new manager following the season.
2011: Coming off his spectacular season, Jose Bautista still had his detractors and doubters. None of which were in the Blue Jays organization, as he was given a five-year contract extension worth $64 million. With the retirement of Cito Gaston, the Blue Jays were now managed by John Farrell, who previously served as pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox. On Opening Day, Farrell got his managerial career started on a winning note as Jose Bautista went deep as the Jays slammed the Minnesota Twins 13-3 at Rogers Centre. The Jays would win four of their first five games. However, a tough road trip quickly had them back under .500. The Blue Jays would go on to finish April at 13-14. The Jays continued their up and down play in May, as they posted a 15-13 record. The Jays would continue this pattern throughout the season, as they once again were lost in the shuffle in the toughest division in baseball with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays all winning 90 or more games. In the end, the Blue Jays would finish right at .500 with a record of 81-81, as the finished fourth in the American League. One player who was consistent all year was Jose Bautista, who had arguably an even better season as he led the Majors with 43 Home Runs, while collecting 103 RBI and batting .302. On the mound, the Jays were led by Ricky Romero, who became an All-Star for the first time with a team-high 15 wins and a solid 2.92 ERA. The Blue Jays also got a strong season from rookie J.P. Arencibia who set a team record with 23 homers as a catcher. In August top prospect, Brett Lawrie made his debut and hit nine home runs over the last two months. The Jays also began remaking their roster as the season came to an end as they acquired Colby Rasmus in a multi-player deal involving the Chicago White Sox, while Kelly Johnson was acquired for Aaron Hill in a trade of second basemen with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Once again, Bautista would win the Hank Aaron Award, as the Blue Jays ended the season with a solid core of young talent that had the makings of a team on the rise.
2012: After a strong finish, the Blue Jays had a renewed sense of excitement as they returned to the traditional blue hats and uniforms that they wore from their early days through their championship years. Early in the season, the Jays had the look of a contender as they had a strong lineup and live arms in the rotation, as they posted a 10-6 record through the first 16 games, as they spend the first two months near the top of the American League East. In June, things began to fall apart in Toronto, as Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison. Morrow who suffered an oblique strain and would miss two months was off to a 7-3 start and looking like the staff’s ace before finishing with a record of 10-7 and an ERA of 2.96. Meanwhile, both Drabek and Hutchinson, two of the Jays young up and coming pitchers needed Tommy John surgery would sideline them the rest of the season. Despite the loss of three starting pitchers the Jays managed to keep their heads above water as they managed to stay around .500 through the end of July. However, in August, things got worse as the injury bug began to take down the critical parts of the Blue Jays lineup. The most significant loss was to Jose Bautista, who missed most of the second half with a wrist injury. Bautista was having another All-Star season with 27 home runs and 65 RBI in 92 games. The Jays also lost Catcher J.P. Arencibia, who had 18 home runs and 56 RBI to a broken hand from a hit by a pitch, while Brett Lawrie was lost when he chased a ball into the dugout. Among the only Jays to remain in the lineup all season was Edwin Encarnacion, who led the team with 42 home runs and 110 RBI, and Colby Rasmus, who had 23 homers and 75 RBI. The Blue Jays would have an awful August as they posted a record of 9-19, with injuries continuing to ravage the pitching staff as they used a team record 31 different pitchers. While Rickey Romero, who was counted on to be one of the team’s stars, had a miserable season, posting a 9-14 record with a meaty ERA of 5.77. The same record was posted by Henderson Alvarez, who had an ERA of 4.85. The Blue Jays would go on to finish the season in fourth place with a record of 73-89. Following the season, the Jays allowed Manager John Farrell out of his contract to manger the Boston Red Sox. The Jays would make it part of a trade as David Carpenter was also sent to the Red Sox in exchange for Mike Aviles. To replace Farrell, the Blue Jays rehired former manager John Gibbons. Looking to get over the hump and become a serious contender in the American League East, the Blue Jays would make a big splash in the November General Manager meetings, as they landed Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio in a fire sale trade by the Miami Marlins for Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Álvarez, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani, and Justin Nicolino. The Jays would not be finished as they would later send John Buck, along with prospects Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra to the New York Mets for Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, and Mike Nickeas. The Blue Jays would also sign the 2012 All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera.
2013: As John Gibbons began his second tenure as manager of the Blue Jays, expectations were as high as the CN Tower in Toronto as a flurry of off-season activity had made the Jays a trendy pick to reach the postseason. However, right from the start, the Jays struggled, losing four of their first six games. The Blue Jays would struggle throughout April, as they ended the month in last place with a record of 10-17. Injuries were an early problem for the Blue Jays, as Josh Johnson could not finish April before going on the Disabled List. Johnson, a crucial part of the Jays trade with the Marlins, would make just 16 starts, posting a 2-8 record with an awful 6.20 ERA. Another player in that trade Jose Reyes also went down early with an ankle injury. The Jays also lost Brandon Morrow to a nerve injury in his arm. Morrow, who was expected to be a big part of the pitching staff finished the season with a 2-3 record and an ERA of 5.30. The Jays’ struggles continued through May, as they held a record of 23-33 on June 1st. In June, as Reyes and Johnson returned, the Blue Jays began to turn things around, winning a franchise-record 11 straight games to climb over .500 for the first time. Also helping was the R.A. Dickey, who, after struggling early, began to resemble the pitcher who won the National League Cy Young a year earlier. The Blue Jays would not be able to sustain their winning record as they ended June with a tough road swing against the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, in which they lost five of seven. Coming home, the Jays would not do much better as they lost three of four to the Detroit Tigers to begin July as they lost 14 of 19 games and fell out of the playoff chase. As it did in the first half, injuries played a role in the Blue Jays’ struggles, as Jose Bautista struggled with a hip injury and missed the final weeks of the season, ending the season with 28 homers and 73 RBI. Brett Lawrie was also limited to injury, suffering an ankle sprain in May, and playing just 107 games, hitting 11 homers with 46 RBI. Catcher J.P. Arencibia just had a disappointing year, finishing the year with a terrible .194 average, despite hitting 21 home runs. One player who did not disappoint was Edwin Encarnacion, who had another big year, leading the Jays with 36 homers and 104 RBI. R.A. Dickey would go on to be the Blue Jays’ most reliable pitcher, posting a record of 14-13 with an ERA of 4.21, while Mark Buehrle finished 12-10 with a 4.15 ERA. The Blue Jays would finish the season in last place, with a disappointing record of 74-88.
2014: Following a disappointing season, the Blue Jays had a quiet off-season as they hoped the big named players they brought in the year before would bounce back. Roy Halladay, forced to retire with arm injuries, was greeted by a standing ovation at Rogers Centre to throw out Opening Night’s first pitch. The Jays went into their home opener, with a 2-2 record after splitting a series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays would also lose their home opener 7-3 to the New York Yankees. April would be another mediocre month for the Jays as they posted a record of 12-15. May would be a different story for the Blue Jays as they had one of the finest months in franchise history, posting a record of 21-9 to leap up to first place in the American League East. Highlighting the Jays charge was Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 16 home runs taking the American League record for home runs in May held by Mickey Mantle since 1956. The Jays won nine straight and continued their tear into June, building a six-game lead following a sweep of the Detroit Tigers on the road. However, all good things come to an end, and June saw the Blue Jays resume the mediocre style of play they showed in April. The Jays would post a 7-15 mark over the final three weeks of June, as their division lead shrunk to a game and a half. The Jays first place grip would slip away in July as they lost eight of ten on a challenging road trip against the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays before the All-Star Break, as they had fallen four games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place. The Jays would recover and finished July strong, sweeping the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and taking two of three in Yankee Stadium, which ended a frustrating 17 game losing streak in the Bronx to close to a game and half of the Orioles at 60-50. However, unable to improve at the trade deadline, the Jays faded out of contention in August, posting a 9-17 mark. The Jays would make one last charge at the Wild Card in September but never got back in the playoff picture, finishing in third place with a record of 83-79. The Blue Jays’ best players once again were Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Encarnacion finished the season with 34 home runs and 98 RBI, while Bautista led the team with 35 homers and 103 RBI.
2015: Coming off a season in which they made a brief run at the playoffs, the Toronto Blue Jays made some improvements to an already stacked lineup by picking up Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics in a trade for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, and Franklin Barreto. To upgrade their pitching, the Jays landed Marco Estrada from the Milwaukee Brewers for Adam Lind. Meanwhile, they would sign veteran Catcher Russell Martin, a native of Canada, to a five-year deal. Martin, a proven leader behind the plate, had a reputation as one of the best single callers in the game, helping to improve every staff he caught. In Spring Training, the Blue Jays suffered a significant loss when Marcus Stroman finished 2014 as Toronto’s best pitcher sustained a torn ACL that was expected to sideline him for the season. The Blue Jays started the season with a bang beating the New York Yankees 6-1, as second base prospect Devon Travis debuted with a home run to lead the way. Travis had an immediate impact on Toronto, collecting several big hits early in the season as he was named Rookie of the Month for April. Leading the way for the Toronto in May, was Josh Donaldson, who hit ten home runs as the Blue Jays established themselves as the best offensive team in baseball. However, pitching was problematic early in the season as the Blue Jays were lingering in last on Victoria Day. The Jays’ most significant issue was an inconsistent bullpen as they held a dismal 3-12 record in one-run games. As June arrived, the Jays began to find their groove as they embarked on an 11-game winning streak that saw them climb above .500. During the winning streak, the Blue Jays offense continued to bash the baseball, but what was more important was their pitching staff began to overcome early-season struggles. Marco Estrada was solid as he took no-hitters into the eighth inning in back-to-back starts finishing June with a 4-1 record and a 3.25 ERA. Despite their big winning streak, the Blue Jays still had their work cut out for them in the playoff chase, as they hovered near .500 and were eight games behind the Yankees in the American League Eastern Division. In the early hours of July 28th, the Blue Jays sent a message to their fans that they were going to make a serious playoff push as they acquired All-Star Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Veteran Reliever LaTroy Hawkins from the Colorado Rockies for Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, and Jesus Tinoco. A few days later, the Blue Jays would make an even bigger deal, landing former Cy Young winner David Price from the Detroit Tigers for Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. On the day of the Tulowitzki trade, the Blue suffered a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Rogers Centre. The loss saw them drop to 50-51 on the season. The Blue Jays would win 14 of their next 15 games, highlighted by a second 11 game winning streak, which saw them going from trailing the Yankees by eight games to leading by a half-game on August 13th. David Price would make 11 starts for Toronto posting a record of 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 741?3 innings, as he finished second in voting for the Cy Young. The Jays went into the Bronx with a head of steam, winning 11 straight, but the Yankees reclaimed first place by winning the first two games of a three-game weekend series. In the finale, the Blue Jays got a strong start from Drew Hutchinson to avoid a sweep with a 3-1 win, staying within a half-game. The Blue Jays would finish August with a record of 21-6, leading the Eastern Division by a game and a half. As the Blue Jays were making their big run, Marcus Stroman, who was expected to miss the entire season, began rehab, with the hopes of pitching late in the season and the playoffs. Stroman made his debut on September 12th against the Yankees in the second game of a doubleheader in the Bronx. Marcus Stroman would earn the win as the Jays took three of four games to take three and half-game lead. Stroman would make three more starts, winning all four while posting a 1.67 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched, which included two wins over the Yankees. His most satisfying win came in the first game a Double Header on September 30th against the Baltimore Orioles as the Blue Jays 15-2 win clinched the division championship, ending their 22-year playoff drought. The Blue Jays would go on to finish the season with a record of 93-69. The Blue Jays offense was ranked first in all of baseball, scoring 891, more than 100 more than second best. Leading the way was Josh Donaldson, who would earn the Hank Aaron Award and American League MVP with 41 home runs and league-best 123 RBI. Jose Bautista also hit 40 homers, with 114 RBI while Edwin Encarnacion had 39 long balls with 111 RBI.
2015 ALDS: O Canada was heard before a postseason game for the first time since the 1993 World Series as the Blue Jays hosted the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the Division Series at Rogers Centre. However, the game would see fans leave disappointed as David Price struggled to allow five runs in seven innings as the Rangers took the opener 5-3. Game 2 would see more disappointment as Brett Cecil could not preserve a 4-3 lead as the Rangers won in 14 innings 6-4 to a take a 2-0 series lead. Needing to win the last three games to advance, the Blue Jays got a strong start from Marco Estrada in Texas as the Toronto stayed alive with a 5-1 win. Troy Tulowitzki provided the big blow with a three-run home run in the sixth inning. In Game 4, the Blue Jays brought out the lumber as Josh Donaldson, Chris Colabello, and Kevin Pillar all went deep to build a 7-0 lead as David Price earned the win after relieving R.A. Dickey. Back in Toronto for the decisive fifth game, the Blue Jays trailed 3-2 in the seventh inning when the Blue Jays loaded the bases on three straight errors. After a force out at home, Josh Donaldson hit a ball just over the glove of Rougned Odor, who was able to recover for a force-out at second, but Pillar came home with the tying run. Jose Bautista than strolled to the plate and proceeded to hit a majestic three-run home plate complete with an epic bat flip that nearly led to a bench-clearing brawl. The Rangers were beside themselves, realizing they were about to lose the series after winning the first two games on the road. Roberto Osuna got the last five outs to close the 6-3 series-clinching win for the Blue Jays. At the age of 20, Osuna became the youngest pitcher in American League history to record a save in the postseason.
2015 ALCS: The Blue Jays would face a more stringent test in the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals. Game 1 at Kaufman Stadium would be a game of missed opportunities as the Blue Jays left nine men on base and were blanked by Edison Volquez and three relievers 5-0. The Blue Jays got on the board in Game 2 and held a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning as David Price was cruising, allowing just a leadoff hit to Alcides Escobar and retiring the next 18 batters. Ben Zobrist led off the seventh with a pop up that landed between Jose Bautista and Ryan Goins. Both players appeared to hesitate and call each other off as the ball fell for a hit. The Royals would proceed to score five runs as Price unraveled, leading to Toronto trailing 2-0 again with a 6-3 loss. The Blue Jays bats came alive in Game 3, as Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ryan Goins each had a home run and three RBI as Toronto won the 11-8 at Rogers Centre. However, looking to even the series, things got ugly fast for the Blue Jays in Game 4 as the Royals needed off against R.A. Dickey scoring five runs in two innings. After Jays got back in the game with two runs in the third, the Royals broke the game open with nine runs over the last three innings. Desperate not to extend their bullpen further, the Blue Jays put Cliff Pennington into pitch to finish the game, making him the first position player to pitch in the postseason. Facing elimination down three games to one, the Blue Jays got another clutch start from Marco Estrada, who allowed just one run in seven and two-thirds innings, as they won the game 7-1 to send the series back to Kansas City. Looking to force a seventh game, the Blue Jays got to home runs from Jose Bautista. With the game tied in the eighth inning, Joey Bats threw to the wrong base as Lorenzo Cain scored from first on a single to give the Royals a 4-3 series-clinching win.
2016: After falling just short of reaching the World Series, the Toronto Blue Jays looked to take another step forward. However, the Jays were slow to get started, as they struggled through most of April, posting a record of 11-14. Despite the struggles, some Blue Jays got off to strong individual starts as Marcus Stroman won his first four decisions, while Josh Donaldson hit eight home runs. The Blue Jays played better in May, as they faced the Texas Rangers for the first time since the ALDS. After taking three of four in Toronto, the Jays lost a three-game series in Arlington. In the series finale on May 15th, Jose Bautista ended up in the middle of the brawl when he was sucker-punched by Rougned Odor after sliding hard into second base to break up a double play. As summer began, the Blue Jays found themselves in a three-way battle in the American League East with the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. Canada Day would turn into one of the most memorable games of the season, as the Blue Jays battled the Cleveland Indians in a 19-inning marathon at Rogers Centre. The Tribe eventually won 2-1 as Toronto was forced to send position players Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney to the mound after running out of relievers. The following day the Blue Jays would beat the Indians 9-6 to end Cleveland’s franchise-best 14-game winning streak. With that win, the Blue Jays would start a seven-game winning streak, as they went on to post a record of 16-8 in July. Along the way, the Jays sent five players to the All-Star Game in San Diego. Joining 3B Josh Donaldson, DH Edwin Encarnacion, pitchers Marco Estrada, and Aaron Sanchez were Canadian-born outfielder Michael Saunders who won the online fan vote for the final roster spot. It was a breakout season for Saunders, who had a career bests .253 average, 24 home runs, and 59 RBI. At the trade deadline, the Blue Jays looked to bolster their pitching staff, acquiring Scott Feldman from the Houston Astros and Francisco Liriano from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Jays would continue to play solid baseball in August, winning 17 games as they spent much of the month in first place. As September arrived, the Jays went into a tailspin losing nine of 12 games. The Jays would post a record of 11-16 in September, costing them a chance to win a second straight division title. Despite the September slump, the Blue Jays managed to post a record of 89-73, which was good enough to capture one of the American League Wild Card berths. Among the Jays with strong seasons was Edwin Encarnacion, who had 42 home runs and led the American League with 127 RBI. Josh Donaldson also had a big year with 37 homers and 99 RBI. On the mound, the Blue Jays were led by J.A. Happ, who posted a record of 20-4 while Aaron Sanchez finished 15-2.
2016 Wild Card Game: The Toronto Blue Jays faced the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card round, hosting the game by winning the season series 10-9 after both finished with identical 89-73 records. Marcus Stroman got the start for Toronto and was solid for six innings, as the game was tied at 2-2 after Ezequiel Carrera singled home Michael Saunders in the fifth. The game would remain deadlocked at the end of nine innings as extra innings were needed to decide who would advance to the ALDS. The Jays bats would come alive in 11th inning as Ubaldo Jimenez came on for the Orioles and was tattooed, first giving up back-to-back singles to Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson, before Edwin Encarnacion smashed a walk-off three-run home run to win the game 5-2.
2016 ALDS: For the second straight season, the Toronto Blue Jays would face the Texas Rangers in the Division Series. In the opener, Toronto got a terrific start from Marco Estrada, who pitched into the ninth inning, allowing just one run on four hits, while striking out six. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays jumped all over Rangers starter Cole Hamels, scoring five runs in the third, highlighted by Troy Tulowitzki’s bases-clearing triple on the way to winning the game 10-1. In Game 2, J.A. Happ pitched in and out of trouble all game, as he allowed just one run to score, despite allowing nine hits in five innings. Meanwhile, the Jays got homers from Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, and Edwin Encarnacion to win the game 5-3. As the series shifted to the Rogers Center, the Blue Jays looked to complete the sweep. Early on, things looked good as they jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the third inning. However, the Rangers came alive as they scratched their way back to take a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning. The Jays would answer tying the game when Tulowitzki scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth. The game remained tied until the tenth inning as the Blue Jays continued to get terrific efforts out of the bullpen. In the tenth inning, Josh Donaldson led off with a double off Matt Bush. After Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked and Jose Bautista struck out, it appeared that the Jays were going to squander a chance to win the game when Russell Martin hit into a tailor-made double play. However, Rougned Odor, the man who sucker-punched Bautista in May, threw the ball away, allowing Donaldson to score the winning run to complete the sweep with a 7-6 win. A fan held a sign in the stands said it best, “It’s better to get punched out in May than to get knocked out in October.”
2016 ALCS: With a trip to the World Series on the line, the Toronto Blue Jays were matched up against the Cleveland Indians. In Game 1, the Blue Jays got a terrific start from Marco Estrada, who found himself in a pitchers’ duel against Corey Kluber. After matching zero for five innings, Estrada blinked first, giving up a two-run home run to Francisco Lindor. It would be all he would allow, as he pitched the distance. However, the Jays offense was silenced all night by the Tribe pitching staff as Cleveland won the opener 2-0. Pitching again was the story in Game 2 as the Blue Jays continued to be tied in knots by the Indians 1-2 punch in the bullpen Andrew Miller and Cody Allen as they suffered a 2-1 loss. Looking to get a jump start as the series shifted to Toronto for Game 3, the Blue Jays twice answered the Indians taking the lead. However, they were unable to answer Jason Kipnis’ two-run blast in the sixth inning as Miller and Allen again dominated as the Indians won the game 4-2 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Blue Jays finally broke through in Game 4, winning 5-1 as Aaron Sanchez and three relievers combined to limit the Tribe to two hits to avoid the sweep. It would only delay the inevitable by one day as the Indians bullpen again tied up the Blue Jays in Game 5, winning 3-0 to advance to World Series.
2017: The Toronto Blue Jays entered the season hoping to get another shot at the World Series after losing in the ALCS two straight seasons. However, the loss of Edwin Encarnacion took away a critical bat in the middle of the lineup. To say things did not start well for the Blue Jays would be an understatement, as they won just one of their first ten games. Toronto would end April with a record of 8-17, forcing themselves to play catch-up the rest of the season. The Blue Jays played much better in May, winning 18 games to get back to within one win of .500. However, they took a step back in June and July and found their playoff hopes fading away as the second half of the season began. The Blue Jays would spend nearly the entire season in the last place but managed to crawl one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles to finish in fourth with a record of 76-86. The loss of Encarnacion hit Toronto harder than expected, as the rest of the lineup suffered without his presence. Justin Smoak and Josh Donaldson each had excellent seasons, batting .270, with Smoak hitting a team-high 38 home runs with 90 RBI, while Donaldson had 33 homers and 78 RBI. In his final season with the Jays, Jose Bautista struggled, batting .203 with 23 home runs and 65 RBI. On the mound, Marcus Stroman led the way with a record of 13-9, posting an ERA of 3.09, while Roberto Osuna was strong in relief, saving 39 games.
2018: Looking to rebound after a disappointing 2017, the Toronto Blue Jays front office felt that they only needed to make low-cost moves to get back to the playoffs. They made two intriguing trades with the St. Louis Cardinals, acquiring 2016 All-Star shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk, a talented power-hitting outfielder. Depth was a top priority for the team, which is why they traded for San Diego Padres utilityman Yangervis Solarte. On paper, these moves were going to fill the holes that were hard to miss in 2017 when Josh Donaldson, Devon Travis, and Troy Tulowitzki spent time on the disabled list. In the rotation, the Jays gave Jaime Garcia a one-year $8 million contract to fill the rotation’s back. The Blue Jays had a good first month, going 15-10 despite Donaldson missing most of it because of an elbow injury. May was a lot worse for the team. On May 8th, Roberto Osuna was suspended indefinitely by the team for domestic violence. The troubled star closer was eventually traded to the Houston Astros for Ken Giles and a few prospects at the trade deadline. Marcus Stroman went on the disabled list on May 11th due to shoulder fatigue, and he was significantly missed in the rotation. Their team’s ERA jumped from 4.12 in April to 5.35 in May. Toronto finished the month 9-19. The injuries continued in June as Donaldson went back on the DL for calf tightness, and Aaron Sanchez, who was struggling with a 3-5 record and a 4.58 ERA, joined him with a right index finger contusion. The team had a winning month of 14-12, but they were not even close to a playoff spot due to the great success of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays were looking to trade everyone they could to rebuild the farm. It started with Steve Pearce, who was traded to the Red Sox for infield prospect Santiago Espinal. J.A Happ, Toronto’s only All-Star, was traded to the Yankees for utility player Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney. The Blue Jays also desperately wanted to trade Josh Donaldson, though it seemed like a longshot considering his two stints on the DL and his disappointing .234/.333/.423 line. They managed to get a deal done with the Indians, receiving pitcher Julian Merryweather in return. Merryweather, a 27-year-old minor leaguer that had Tommy John surgery in the spring. The Blue Jays decided that it was more important to save money than potentially keep Donaldson on a qualifying offer and hope things turned out differently in 2019. Stroman and Sanchez each went on the disabled list again in August with finger injuries. Their disappointing seasons were a big reason the team’s ERA was 4.85, third-worst in the American League. The highlight of the season took place on September 20th, when the Blue Jays came back from an 8-2 deficit and beat the Rays 9-8 after a seven-run ninth. It was capped off by back to back home runs from Lourdes Gurriel and Justin Smoak. The Jays finished in fourth place in the American League East with a 73-89 record, 35 games out of first place as manager John Gibbons was fired.
Written by Anthony Harris
2019: It was the first season of a full rebuild, even though the Toronto Blue Jays front office would not admit it as Charlie Montoyo took over as manager. After trading away Russell Martin and paying Troy Tulowitzki $38 million to go away, there were only five players from the 2016 ALCS team on the roster. They traded away another veteran player, Kendrys Morales, the day before the season started. Five days later, they traded away fan-favorite Kevin Pillar to the San Francisco Giants. The goal was to give playing time to young players and cheap veterans like Eric Sogard and Freddy Galvis since they were spending $49 million in salary on players that weren’t on the team. The offense struggled mightily in the opening four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, scoring only 12 runs, but they managed to win two of them because the Tigers only scored six. Vladimir Guerrero Jr made his long-awaited debut for the team on April 26th, and the team proceeded to sweep the Oakland A’s. Vlad brought some excitement to the team, and they appeared to be on the upswing as they were 14-14 and had won nine of eleven games when they traveled to Anaheim to play the Angels on April 30th. They proceeded to lose 12 of their next 15 games and were out of contention for the rest of the season. The offense was the biggest problem as the team only scored more than four runs once during that stretch. Marcus Stroman had voiced his complaints about the direction of the team throughout the season. He wanted more veterans in the clubhouse and a contract extension, saying he wanted to be a Blue Jay for life. The team refused to discuss an extension and traded him to the New York Mets at the trade deadline for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. The Jays traded their second longest-tenured pitcher, Aaron Sanchez, along with Joe Biagini and minor league outfielder Cal Stevenson, to the Houston Astros for outfielder Derek Fisher, a 26-year-old former top prospect. Both trades were viewed by the league as extremely light returns for the Blue Jays. After the deadline, Justin Smoak and Ryan Tepera were the only players left from their 2016 team. As frustrating as the deadline was, there were many positives after the promotions of top prospects Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette. Biggio showed excellent plate discipline for a rookie with a .364 OBP and great power-speed potential with 16 home runs and 14 steals while never being caught. He finished the season on a tear, hitting for the cycle against the Baltimore Orioles on September 17th. Bichette was electric from his call up on July 29. He was 2-for-4 with a walk in his second game and homered and doubled in his third game. He could not stop hitting doubles after that, hitting one in each of his next eight games, a major league record. He finished the season hitting .311and quickly became a fan favorite. Vlad’s season in comparison was disappointing considering the hype that he had, but a .272 average with 15 home runs and 69 RBI is not too bad for a rookie. The Blue Jays finished the year at 67-95, but with improvement expected from those three in the future, the Blue Jays lineup should be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Written by Anthony Harris
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Page created on March 6, 2001. Last updated on June 29, 2018 at 4:40 pm ET.