With both the Twins and Rays facing an 0-2 deficit in the ALDS right now, they can look back to the 2015 Blue Jay for hope that a comeback is possible.
We may not have the opportunity to watch the Toronto Blue Jays in this year’s MLB playoffs, but there has been some quality baseball to take in.
The American League has started out as many predicted, with the Astros and Yankees taking a lead so far in the ALDS round of the playoffs. For the casual baseball fan, this round is a best of five, and right now each series is at 0-2, leaving the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays with a big mountain to climb. However, they can look back to a recent example for hope, as the 2015 Blue Jays were able to overcome that same deficit.
It was just four years ago that the Blue Jays got themselves into an 0-2 hole against the Texas Rangers, but things only went up from there and culminated with one of the most exciting moments in franchise history, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
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The Blue Jays turned to Marco Estrada with their backs against the wall in Game 3, and the change-up artist was magnificent through 6.1 innings, allowing just one run on five hits before turning it over to the bullpen to lock it down the rest of the way. The offence was lead by Josh Donaldson with two hits, and a solo shot from Troy Tulowitzki, which was enough for a 5-1 win.
Game 4 was Texas’ second chance to finish the series at home, but they couldn’t capitalize then either. The Blue Jays started R.A. Dickey, who pitched well 4.2 innings and allowing just one run, but it was David Price who picked up the win, with the loss going to Derek Holland. The offence certainly clicked that day and was lead by home runs from Jose Bautista, Chris Colabello, and Kevin Pillar, the latter of whom had three hits.
By the time Game 5 had turned to Toronto, the fan base went from sad and defeated to borderline losing their minds, and that was before the epic conclusion. Marcus Stroman drew the start and tossed 6.0 quality innings, allowing just two runs. As good as the young pitcher was, Cole Hamels was just as good or better, and the Rangers held a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. And then, came the “bat flip” heard all over Canada.
Bautista unloaded on a Sam Dyson offering for a no-doubt, three-run blast into the left field seats. The moment he made contact, everyone watching knew that ball was destined for the outfield bleachers, and “Joey Bats” punctuated the moment with the controversial bat flip. For the vast, vast majority of Blue Jay fans, it was more than okay. It gave them a 6-3 lead, which was enough to carry them until Roberto Osuna closed the door in the ninth inning and sent the Rangers home for the winter.
To me, Bautista’s home run is the second biggest moment in franchise history, behind only Joe Carter‘s walk-off blast in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. It also sealed an improbable comeback from an 0-2 series Ranger lead, and gave the Blue Jays their ticket to the next round. Unfortunately, they ended up losing to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS, who eventually went on to win the World Series.
In order to get to Bautista’s defining moment as a big leaguer the Blue Jays had to start by winning one game at a time. It began in Game 3 on the road, and the Rays and Twins at least have the luxury of starting their uphill battle in their home ballparks. It’s hard to see either advancing past the mighty Astros and Yankees, but there are reasons to believe it can be done, and the 2015 Blue Jays are a great example. Plus, it’s always fun to take that trip down memory lane.