The History of Our Home Openers: 1987
Apr 19, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson (2) swings as the new logo can be seen embedded on the turf behind home plate against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
For those of you on pins and needles waiting to hear about a 25 year old game I apologize for the delay but here we are. After the 1986 setback there was renewed vigor and optimism in the Blue Jays camp. Sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward. That is exactly what the ’86 team did. The 1987 team? Well let me paint a picture of the tension in spring…players getting tight worrying about their jobs knowing full well that this should be the year to make a big statement. They weren’t kids anymore. We had so many potential all-stars at a myriad of positions but this year proved to be one that would achingly linger in the recesses of the Blue Jays collective minds…
Date: Monday April 6, 1987
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Cleveland Indians vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: 13C and clear
The start of the season saw opening day pitcher Jimmy Key battling crafty knuckleballer Tom Candiotti and the always pesky Cleveland Indians (including current broadcaster Pat Tabler!). Everyone, myself included, thought it would be Dave Stieb taking the ball but Key proved to be perhaps the best LHP that this team has ever had. He pitched like it too on this day. The Jays bats lit up Mr. Candiotti to the tune of 6 earned runs in five innings which included dingers by stalwarts Lloyd Moseby and Willie UPshaw. The Candyman also gave up 4 doubles and a triple and that translates into 7 of the 8 hits off of him were of the extra base variety. That is some pretty hefty hitting right there.
Key, on the other hand, was efficient. 6 innings and 2 earned. Not a fantastic start but quality enough to hold down the fort while the Jays bats thumped Cleveland. As the dust settles you have a score of 7-3 Blue Jays and the beginning of one of the wildest seasons in Jays history. Blue Jays left fielder George Bell drove in 134 runs to lead the American League, and was selected the league’s Most Valuable Player. Tom Henke established himself as an elite closer by leading the American League in saves with 34. Jimmy Key led the American League with a 2.76 ERA and on September 14, 1987, the Blue Jays set a Major League record by hitting 10 home runs in a game against the Baltimore Orioles…a record that still stands to this very day.
We gave up on Dennis Lamp and Bill Caudill. Traded Damaso “My uniform is burning” Garcia and Luis Leal for Craig McMurtry. Mike Sharperson was traded to the Dodgers for a young, wild fireballer known as Juan Guzman. The foundation again got another piece of the World Series puzzle. The team seemed destined to win it all, up 3 1/2 games on the Tigers with 7 games left…and we lost them all, including our last three to Detroit at home. It was a bitter pill to swallow and left us yearning for 1988 to make things right again…how did we fare?