Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays And Some Unusual MLB Records

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1989: Ernie Whitt #12 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during batting practice prior to the start of a Major League baseball game circa 1989. Whitt played for the the Blue Jays from 1977-78 and 1980-1989. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1989: Ernie Whitt #12 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during batting practice prior to the start of a Major League baseball game circa 1989. Whitt played for the the Blue Jays from 1977-78 and 1980-1989. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays have been involved in several unusual MLB record-setting games, both on the setting, and on the receiving end.  Here are a few of my favourites.

My colleague Chris Henderson recently wrote a story about the day that Ken Grifffey Jr. set a new record for home runs in April – playing against the Blue Jays.  It got me thinking about other records that have been set by or against the Jays – some serious, others less so.

Let me share a few of my favourites.

Home Runs

The good – The 1987 Blue Jays had a pretty potent offense.  Their offensive WAR was third in the majors, and their 215 team home runs (led by George Bell‘s 47) was second only to the Tigers.  But on September 14, playing against Baltimore, the Jays set a record that has yet to be matched by hitting 10 home runs in a single game.  And who led the Jays that night, with three of the 10 homers?  Ernie Whitt.  When asked about the game, the Jays’ then-hitting coach said:

"How could one team hit 10 home runs in a game? “It was because of the batting practice (coach) Rocket Wheeler and I threw,” joked normally stoic Toronto batting coach Cito Gaston.13 “Rocket had five guys who hit home runs and I had four. How do you explain it? Well, you’re just seeing the ball well,” said Gaston. “When it’s coming in, it seems as big as a basketball. That’s something for all of them to be proud about. We might not ever again see a game like that.”"

The bad – In 2002, the Texas Rangers set a MLB record with 27 consecutive games with a home run.  That record stood for 17 years, until the 2019 Yankees tied it on Monday, June 24, 2019 in the first of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium against (you guessed it) the Toronto Blue Jays.  So the second game of that series would either break the record, or leave the Yanks in a tie.  The pressure was on!  Sadly, it did not take long.  Only six pitches into the first Yankee batter of the game, D.J. Lemahieu <ahem> “relieved the suspense” with a no-doubter off of Clayton Richard.  The Yankees ended up scoring 306 home runs in 2019 – the second highest season total by any team in baseball history.  Who was #1, you ask?  The 2019 Minnesota Twins, with 307.

The amusing – On June 25, 2016 the White Sox did something that had only been done twice before.  They hit seven home runs  … but lost the game (to the Blue Jays, 10-8).  All seven of the HR were solo shots.  And the only wSox player to get two HR, with the first being inside-the-park?  Brett Lawrie.  The seven solo home runs in a single game tied another AL record, set by the other Sox team, who did it on July 4, 1977 against (yep) the Jays.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Uniforms

In his career, Edwin Jackson had played for 13 major league teams, tied with Octavio Dotel for the most in MLB history.  Tied, that is, until July 15, 2019 when he suited up for the Blue Jays, his 14th team.  Later that year, E-Jax started eight games for the Tigers, but that did not extend the record – he had already played one season for Detroit in 2009.

Consecutive games streak

You may have heard of this player named Cal Ripken Jr.?  Something of an iron man, he played 2,632 consecutive games, breaking Lou Gehrig‘s old record of 2,130.  But what many do not know is that Ripken also holds the record for consecutive innings played, with 8,264 consecutive innings from June 5, 1982 to September 14, 1987.  Does that latter date ring a bell?  Ripken was replaced at shortstop at the beginning of the 8th inning by … Ron Washington, who went on to manage the Texas Rangers to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Extra base hit streak

In 1939 (!) Ted Williams set a MLB rookie record with extra-base hits in nine consecutive games.  It took 80 years (!!) but that record was finally tied in 2019 – by Bo Bichette.  And during that stretch, Bo also broke the MLB record (not just for rookies) with doubles in nine consecutive games. His record-setting double was hit against the Yankees’ Chad Green – who was first drafted in the 37th round of the 2010 draft by some team north of the border.

Pitching

Nolan Ryan pitched a MLB-record seven no-hitters in his career.  The record-setting 7th was against the Blue Jays on May 1, 1991.  This no-hitter is remarkable for other reasons as well.  Ryan was 44 years old, making him the oldest pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter.  And (while I am not sure that this is unique) the no-hitter was thrown on Arlington Fan Appreciation Night.  And – for any “For Love of the Game”  fans out there – the final batter that Nolan struck out was Roberto Alomar, whose father, Sandy Alomar Sr., played second base for the Angels in Ryan’s first two no-hitters in 1973.

First game in the bigs

The good – Ask Pat Borders about his favourite baseball memory and you do not hear about the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, or the two World Series rings, or even the World Series MVP in 1992.  No, his best memory is about his first major league game, on April 6, 1988.

"“I always think of my first game, because I never really thought I was going to make it to the big leagues,” he says. “And I always think of my dad.”On the day of Borders’ big-league debut, his father, a civics teacher in Florida, left school and flew to Kansas City. He feared he would be late.“As soon as I got up to bat, he walked into the stadium,” Borders says. “Charlie Leibrandt was the pitcher. Bases were loaded. I hit a triple. First pitch. He could have thrown that ball to the backstop, I’d have probably swung. My dad got there just in time to see that, and I ended up getting three hits and five RBIs that day.”"

Borders’ five RBIs in his first MLB game set an AL record that still stands, though it was matched by Oakland’s Ben Grieve in 1997.

The even better – The AL record (modern era) for total bases in a first career game is 11:  two HR, one double and a single.  The Holder?  J.P. Arenciba, whose MLB debut on August 7, 2010 was in a 17-7 Jays drubbing of the Rays.  And JPA was probably the first player with four hits in his first game to be benched in his second game.  He was optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas (remember them?) on August 8 to make room for John Buck‘s return from the disabled list (remember that term?)

How did Vlad Jr's first MLB week go?. dark. Next

The bottom line

There are of course many other records which touch on the Blue Jays.  Most seagulls exterminated in a single gameMost players injured by vicious suitcasesMost even player trade?  So help me out – what is *your* favourite unusual Blue Jays record?

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