The Toronto Blue Jays are starting to rediscover the magic that took them to the post-season in 2015
For me, the defining moment of the Toronto Blue Jays’ remarkable 2015 campaign isn’t Jose Bautista‘s bat flip, Edwin Encarnacion‘s hat trick, the debuts of Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, the late-season additions of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, or Marcus Stroman‘s heroic return from the disabled list. It’s a seemingly innocuous road victory on Aug. 23 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The game didn’t feature the greatest of starts for the Blue Jays.
With R.A. Dickey on the mound, Toronto quickly fell behind 5-1 after the first, but there was no sense of panic or defeat from the bench. The Blue Jays were already on their way to claiming the American League East divisional crown by this point, and it showed in how they responded to the early deficit. They went right back out there in the second, applying their craft, and eventually walked away with a 12-5 win. This may have even been the series where Donaldson secured himself the MVP over Mike Trout.
This was the first time I really knew for certain that the Blue Jays were a special team, and that this was a special season. This was the first time I really thought that the Blue Jays were legitimate contenders, that they could go all the way. No doubt there were bigger comeback wins for the Blue Jays in 2015 – does an unbelievable 13-10 come-from-behind road victory over the Boston Red Sox sound familiar to anyone? – but that 12-5 win over the Angels, with its final roster in place and sense of near unstoppable momentum behind it, confirmed the point: this team was magical.
Fast-forward to this season, and I finally got a sense of that same feeling over the weekend. The Minnesota Twins don’t represent the most formidable of opponents, but they came to play and that showed in the overall tightness of the three-game series. It was just enough to rev the Blue Jays’ engine.
The series was unnecessarily close at times, but it never felt uncomfortably close. Saturday’s dramatic 8-7 comeback win, fueled in large part by a hat trick from Donaldson, was a surprise in terms of how the Blue Jays won, but it wasn’t a surprise that they won. You could sense the looming victory as the at-bats got a bit longer, as the Blue Jays began chipping away at the Twins’ lead, as a two-run top of the seventh for Minnesota didn’t deter Toronto from adding three runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. By the time Jason Grilli stepped on the mound in the top of the eighth, you could already see another Blue Jays win on the horizon despite the fact they were still trailing 7-6 at the time.
The team had a purpose, and they were fully committed to the purpose: winning.
Saturday’s comeback win was followed by another comeback win on Sunday, and now another comeback win last night against the Baltimore Orioles. It’s beginning to feel like, no matter what the inning and no matter what the score, the Blue Jays are there to win games. It’s beginning to feel like this team is riding a wave of momentum.
It’s beginning to feel like 2015 again.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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