Top 5 postseason moments in Toronto Blue Jays history
The Toronto Blue Jays have participated in the postseason on seven occasions since their inception into the league in 1977. On two of those postseason treks, the Blue Jays were crowned baseball royalty in back-to-back seasons in 1992 and 1993.
Their first ever appearance in the playoffs was versus the Kansas City Royals in 1985. The Jays would eventually succumb to George Brett and company in a tough, seven game ALCS battle. The Jays posted their best win/loss record in history going 99-62 with a .615 winning percentage. This season is still in the record books as the best regular season is Jays history.
However, the contingent from north of the border would once again taste defeat at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. The “Bash Brothers” would overpower the Blue Jays in five games during the ALCS. Manager Cito Gaston took over the helm of Jays manager after Jimmy Williams‘ squad got off to a 12-24 start. Gaston would right the ship seeing the Jays cruise to a 77-49 record the rest of the way clinching 1st in the AL East.
The Jays would again clinch a postseason berth in 1991 only to be bounced by the eventual World Series-champion Minnesota Twins in five games. The Twins were led by World Series MVP pitcher Jack Morris who would sign with the Blue Jays as a free agent shortly after the season concluded.
We all know what happened in 1992 and 1993 as the Blue Jays took the baseball world by storm in dramatic fashion, beating the Atlanta Braves in ’92 and the Philadelphia Phillies in ’93 to complete the back-to-back Championships.
After the World Series crowning in 1993, the Blue Jays would not get a sniff of the postseason again until 2015, when they eventually lost out the Royals in the ALCS. The playoffs had everything from bench clearings and bat flips, rejuvenating a country and their love for the game.
Most recently again in 2016, the Jays would fall short in the ALCS as their bats fell silent at the hands of the Cleveland Indians.
The Blue Jays dropped the first game of the 1992 World Series to the Atlanta Braves 3-1, off the heels of a Tom Glavine gem in front of a packed house at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
With the Jays trailing 4-3 in the top of the 9th inning of Game #2, Pat Borders flew out to David Justice in right field to lead off the inning. Manager Cito Gaston would opt to go to his bench, pinch hitting for the light hitting Manuel Lee with Derek Bell.
With the tomahawk chop in full effect, pinch hitter Ed Sprague settled into the box. The third-baseman had only seen action in 22 contests during the regular season, batting .234 in limited opportunities.
With a runner on, Sprague took a Jeff Reardon first pitch offering and deposited it over the left-field wall to give the Jays a 5-4 lead.
Tom Henke would come on to save it for the Jays tieing the series heading back to Toronto.
I had the opportunity to interview Ed Sprague a few years back and this was his response about what he remembered from the at-bat: “I remember being very relaxed for that at bat. I thought about taking the first pitch because Derek Bell had just walked in front of me but I decided to go up swinging. I am glad I did.”
I realize this one may still sting, as Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians a short time after this thrilling round-tripper. However, this home run was of epic proportions, and deserves a place on the Top 5. Surely, it stings more for the Orioles and their fans.
In a one and done wild card game, the Blue Jays faced off against their division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles for a contest north of the border. The game featured starters Marcus Stroman opposite Chris Tillman, however neither would be around for the decision in the 11th.
The wild card game was knotted at two runs apiece in the 11th when Orioles manager Buck Showalter opted for Ubaldo Jimenez instead of closer Zach Britton. A decision he will not soon forget. Britton had been absolutely perfect all season long with a minuscule 0.54 ERA and 47 saves.
With runners on first and third and one out, Edwin Encarnacion would stroll to the plate. Edwin was 0-3 with a walk and strikeout for the game leading up to the at-bat.
Encarnacion quickly would obliterate a Jimenez pitch halfway to Baltimore, catapulting the Jays into an ALDS rematch with the Texas Rangers. The Jays would walk off the Orioles 5-2 shattering their postseason aspirations.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the Rogers Center for this one and recall the thunderous booms as the stadium nearly exploded with one swing of the bat from “Eddie”.
Easily the best game I have ever experienced live.
The Toronto Blue Jays were down 6-1 going into the 8th inning of Game 4 of the 1992 ALCS versus the Oakland Athletics. With the Jays up 2-1 in the series, it appeared the Athletics were in the driver’s seat with two innings remaining and closer Dennis Eckersley looming in the bullpen.
Eckersley had been unhittable all season long registering 51 saves with a 1.91 ERA in 69 games for the A’s in 1992. He also would later go on to win the league MVP and Cy Young award for the season.
The Jays managed to chip away at the lead in the 8th, scoring three runs including two off of Eckersley, making it a 6-4 deficit. A’s manager Tony La Russa decided to stay with his closer for the 9th inning and the rest is history.
Speedster Devon White led off the inning with a triple, setting the table for the Alomar heroics. The second-baseman would smash the Eckersley offering over the right-field wall much to the dismay of outfielder Ruben Sierra. The homer was a frozen rope that left the yard with some giddy-up.
The Jays would go on to win the game in the 11th thanks to a sacrifice fly from catcher Pat Borders and take a strangle hold on the series 3-1.
Alomar would go on to be named series MVP after the Jays punched their ticket to the World Series in six. The future Hall of Famer batted .423 with 11 hits and two home runs in 26 at-bats.
Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers will live on forever in the minds of Blue Jays fans all over. You would be hard pressed to find a crazier inning of baseball ever played in the history of the game than what occurred during that infamous 7th inning.
The 7th inning began with the Jays down 3-2 in the decisive Game 5 contest, as the Rangers had just taken the lead in their top half, scoring a run on a zany play in which catcher Russell Martin inadvertently threw the ball of Shin-Soo Choo‘s bat, allowing Rougned Odor to score from third. After an umpire conference and field visits from both managers, the run counted, setting the stage for bat flip dramatics.
After Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus forget how to field, the Jays were well positioned with two men on base and a run already across the board when Bautista stepped up. “Joey Bats” destroyed the Dyson offering sending the Rogers Center into complete chaos. Bautista would put an exclamation point on the home run with the now famous bat flip heard around the world.
The benches would clear a couple times following, however, when the order was finally restored the Blue Jays reigned victoriously and punched their ticket to the ALCS with the Royals.
This is arguably the biggest home run ever hit by a Blue Jays player not named “Joe”.
The Toronto Blue Jays had a 3-2 series lead when they battled the Philadelphia Phillies in game 6 of the 1993 World Series. 52,195 rowdy Blue Jays fans packed the Skydome, hopeful to see their team repeat as World Series Champions on home turf.
The Jays squandered a 5-1 lead allowing the Phillies to plate five runs in the 7th inning off starter Dave Stewart, and reliever Danny Cox. The Phillies would take a 6-5 lead thanks in part to a 3-run homer from Lenny Dykstra.
The slim lead remained into the 9th inning when Phillies closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams came in to close it out and prolong the Phillies postseason life. Williams would remain true to his nickname, walking leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson.
Williams would retire Devon White on a fly ball before offering up a single to Paul Molitor and writing the script for Joe Carter. With runners on 1st and 3rd, and a 2-2 count Carter would belt a line drive down that would just get over the left-field wall, walking off the Blue Jays in dramatic fashion.
Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek would famously call the home run- “Touch ’em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life”. No truer words have ever been uttered as no bigger home run has ever been hit north of the border.