8. The Philly special
It’s mid-August and the Blue Jays are exhausted. After arriving back in Buffalo following a three game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, the team has a doubleheader against the Phillies before departing for a game in Tampa Bay the next day.
After an emotional win via a walk-off single from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the first game, the Blue Jays come out flat in the second game. The Phillies jump Trent Thornton for six earned runs in the first inning, and take a commanding 7-2 lead.
The score remained unchanged for six innings, as the Blue Jays couldn’t solve Vince Velasquez. After Andrew McCutchen popped out to end the bottom of the sixth, the Phillies had a 98 per cent chance to win the game, according to ESPN’s win probability.
The Blue Jays could have lied down and taken this loss, and there would have been no complaints from the media or the fans. But giving in just isn’t in this team’s DNA.
Velasquez came out to start the seventh (the last inning of the game), but after giving up a solo shot to Rowdy Tellez and a single to Teoscar Hernandez, manager Joe Girardi went to the ‘pen. Connor Brogdon entered, and after walking Vladimir Guerrero Jr., gave up a three-run shot to Gurriel Jr. The Philadelphia lead that was five at the start of the inning was now one.
Brogdon got Joe Panik to ground out, but sensing danger, Girardi made another change, this time tabbing Héctor Neris to try and save the day.
Save the day he did not. After Danny Jansen reached on a throwing error, Neris got Travis Shaw swinging. But Neris issued a free pass to Cavan Biggio, and after another throwing error in the field put Randal Grichuck on, the Blue Jays had the bases loaded, with two outs and the tying run on third for Tellez.
But Tellez didn’t even have to swing the bat. Neris threw a wild pitch, allowing Jansen to score and tie the game. With the pressure off, Tellez calmly stroked a single into centre, cashing two runs and giving Toronto a 9-7 lead. The Phillies would add a run in the bottom half, but A.J. Cole closed it out and preserved the comeback win.
The Philly special might be the most iconic seven-point play in Philadelphia sports history, but the Blue Jays gave them a taste of their own medicine, scoring seven runs in an inning to steal one from the Phillies.