Blue Jays: A Canadian baseball history moment on Sunday
There was a lot for the Blue Jays and their fans to celebrate this weekend, and they gave the Canadian support an extra treat on Sunday.
After Kevin Gausman had to exit the game early due to a cut on a finger on his pitching had, John Schneider handed the ball to Zach Pop. The right-hander was acquired from the Miami Marlins along with Anthony Bass prior to the trade deadline, and lately he’s been absolutely lights out for his new team. After two scoreless innings against the Red Sox, Pop has now had eight straight scoreless appearances out of the bullpen covering 10.2 innings.
By picking up for Gausman on Sunday and pitching the 4th and 5th innings, Pop ended up being the winning pitcher in the ball game. The Blue Jays were winning 5-2 when he was done for the day, and the final score ended up being 6-3, leaving him as the pitcher of record.
Where things becomes a Canadian baseball history moment is the fact that Jordan Romano later came in to pitch the ninth inning and earned his 36th save of the season in the process. Combining their efforts, it was the first time in franchise history that Canadian-born players earned the win and a save in the same game.
The Blue Jays have had plenty of Canadian pitchers throughout franchise history, but never a top-tier Canuck closer like they have now in Romano. As long as he’s in the ninth inning role I’m sure there will be other opportunities for this to happen again, and likely even with Pop, who is under contract control for at least four more seasons, and Romano has three more before he’ll be eligible for free agency.
The win-save combination will go down as a footnote in what was an important victory for the Blue Jays on Sunday. They’ve now guaranteed that they won’t have to play the first round at the dreaded Trop in Tampa Bay, and barring a collapse in Baltimore this week they should get to host at least two games to get the playoffs under way.
And who knows, maybe the pair of right-handers will pick up another win-save in the playoffs on Canadian soil. If all goes according to plan over the next few days, they’ll get their first opportunity when the postseason kicks off on Friday.