On Sunday, August 10th, something happened to the Jays. Yes, they won the longest game in team history. Yes, they won the season series against the AL Central-leading Tigers. Yes, they boosted their playoff chances by a substantial amount because not only did they win, most of the teams ahead of them lost (the two divisional teams actually).
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So who’s the hero? Well there are a few. Most should point to long-reliever Chad Jenkins, who took over for six shutout innings. That would be the prime choice… and no one would doubt you.
Aug 10, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Chad Jenkins (64) throws a pitch during the eighteenth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
“I haven’t thrown six innings all year. I made starts in Buffalo, but the most I went was five and two-thirds. I think I had two pitches left in the tank” – Chad Jenkins
Jose Reyes? Possibly after the game-tying hit, but recall it was his error in the first that led to the early hole… and he was caught stealing while already in scoring position, late. Jose Bautista? He drove in the game-winning hit, sure, but he was 0/6 before. Melky Cabrera deserves some love, but the Tigers knew this too, and intentionally walked him to face the clean-up hitter Bautista (a slap in the face, but Jose eventually got even thankfully). Munenori Kawasaki? He was the winning run, and I love Kawasaki mania, but wasn’t he like 1/6? Dioner Navarro? Yes, he could be the hero in the first half of the game (which was the length of a full game). Colby Rasmus? Sensational in the field and one huge double in extras, but struckout 3 times (which doesn’t make many people heroes). Mark Buehrle? Nope, not at all– let’s not be silly. I don’t even recall his last win… you?
How about replay?? YES. This gets my vote. Bottom of the ninth, Jays down one, Anthony Gose on first, breaks for second. Rasmus swings and misses (we’re accustomed to the latter) and the throw to second from the catcher is on the money. OUT! is the call on the field. It looked like it could go either way. He looked safe to me, but I am biased. The replays showed it was so very close. A history lesson: the Jays have gotten screwed out of challenge calls. They never seem to win any, even when it appears there’s sufficient evidence (recall Cabrera at the plate about a month ago?).
Jul 31, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays managerJohn Gibbons
(5) talks with home plate umpire Paul Emmel after a call during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Back to Sunday, John Gibbons wasted no time and strutted out to challenge the call, a call the Jays desperately needed. I thought there was no chance they would change the call as there was not overwhelming evidence for Gose. I mean he looked safe, but who are we kidding? We’re Toronto… we’re not getting the OVERTURN to save the umpire’s face, if nothing else.
BUT THEY DID! Gose was ruled safe.
Jun 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Anthony Gose (8) steals third base on New York Yankees third basemanKelly Johnson
(33) in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. New York defeated Toronto 5-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Two batters later and Reyes drove in the tying run!
Then, in the 13th inning, with a runner on third, but after his single, the Tigers’ Andrew Romine was caught in no man’s land between first and second. Kawasaki surprised him by throwing to first while the potential game-winning run was turning third base. We had a rundown on our hands! This was a tough one for the Jays though because the potential winning run was at third and if Bryan Holaday scored during Romine’s rundown, the Tigers would seize the lead.
Aug 11, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) and right fielder Jose Bautista (19) wear red jerseys to celebrate Canada baseball day against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre. The Athletics beat the Blue Jays 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
To make things tougher, the first-baseman, Jose Bautista, had played his customary right field all game long. Out of he frying pan and into the fire. Bautista looked the runner close enough to third, but Romine was closing in on second base. Bautista dove for Romine but appeared to miss. The umpire called him safe. Again, Gibbons trotted out and immediately called for another challenge since he won the first one. Replay revealed that he may have got the tag in, but it was so close to call. Bautista looked confident, but he has before and the play was upheld, not reversed. Jays’ fans felt that there was little chance that the umpires would reverse not one but two calls, but that’s just what they did. The Jays got out of it.
The rest is history, but now one thing is for sure: Jays’ fans now believe in replay. If it wasn’t for replay, it would be two absolutely heartbreaking losses in three games and would’ve totally hampered– if not completely deflated the team’s playoff aspirations.
Now the Jays catch the induced-red eye flight to Seattle to face King Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. Shouldn’t be a huge deal though I guess… Toronto just won games started by Max Scherzer and David Price. They’ve shown they can take games pitched by Cy Young winners, so what’s another? Good luck guys! First pitch is at 10:00PM, Eastern.
Aug 10, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcherJosh Thole
(22) celebrates the win with first baseman Jose Bautista (mobbed) and third basemanDanny Valencia
(15) during the nineteenth inning at the end of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports