When older Blue Jays fans rant and rave about the fun times of '92 and '93, most younger fans nod their heads and wonder if it actually happened. Could a team that has played largely mediocre baseball for the past two decades actually be capable of creating memories that spectacular? Yes they can, apparently. As Jose Bautista launched a ball into orbit and chucked his bat even further, a new generation of Blue Jays fans witnessed their moment. A tumultuous contest from the outset, Game Five kicked it into high gear as the sixth inning turned into the seventh. With the crowd still going insane from the game-tying Edwin Encarnacion solo blast, an hour of baseball that would rewrite the history books was waiting right around the corner.
6:15: Aaron Sanchez comes out of the bullpen to relieve Marcus Stroman after a tremendous start and faces off against Rougned Odor. Many would argue that the righty reliever should not have been allowed to face such a tough lefty, but John Gibbons wanted to live or die with his best pitchers and you can't blame the man for that. Regardless, the LHH second baseman smacked a 2-1 fastball the other way to get the inning going.
This guy again.— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) October 14, 2015
Yeah, this guy again.
6:17: After a Chris Gimenez sac bunt moved Odor to second, Delino DeShields makes minimal contact on a Sanchez sinker resulting in a squibber that requires an MVP-esque play from Josh Donaldson:
6:20: A moment that could have haunted Blue Jays fans for as long as they lived unfolds with Shin-Soo Choo at the plate. With a 1-2 count, Aaron Sanchez throws a fastball with cutting action that ends up high for a ball. On the throw back to the mound, Russell Martin miraculously tosses the ball off Choo's bat and down the third base line. The fans and players remain largely unfazed by this occurrence, but Odor sees the opportunity and takes it by running home uncontested. What unfolds after he touches the plate is memorable, infuriating, and embarrassing for the city of Toronto.
Even the writers at the game seemed generally unaffected by the whole thing:
I've never seen that before -- catcher's throw back to the mound doing a ricochet off the hitters' bat.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) October 14, 2015
But it was about to get real weird in the Rogers Centre. After initially ruling the play dead and being recorded on audio saying "NO NO NO" as Odor ran home, Dale Scott is forced by Jeff Banister to have a conference about the play. Minutes pass as the umpires discuss, but they eventually come to the conclusion that the run was going to count. No one was really sure of the proper decision due to the lack of a handy rulebook nearby, but that didn't stop folks from sharing their opinion. Some pointed to the lack of interference by Choo meaning the run should count, while others noted that Scott called the play dead ruling out any potential advancement by Odor. Most Blue Jays fans though, could do neither as they sat in horror at what had just unfolded:
Oh my God.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) October 14, 2015
6:22: Confusion turned quickly to extreme anger as Toronto sports fans realized they were having their hearts broken AGAIN:
Fans are littering the field. Must be a sickening feeling for Jays fans. Wow.— Chris Toman (@Chris_Toman) October 14, 2015
As beer cans flew from the 500 level and John Gibbons went berserk on the field, the TV crew doubled down on their initial opinion that the call by Dale Scott was correct and that Odor had scored a legal run.
Getting showered here pic.twitter.com/eMjcKaBAN6— Dave Kaufman (@TheKaufmanShow) October 14, 2015
The umpires, completely befuddled by the whole situation, decide to talk to New York on the headsets despite the play being 100% a judgement call. In the chaos, Mark Buehrle or Michael Saunders is ejected for stepping on the field as an inactive player.
Most fans finally came around to the fact that the umpiring crew made the right call and their only mistake was calling timeout during a live play. It's obvious no Blue Jay defender would have been able to catch Odor though, so the stream of vitriol slowly changes direction from the umps to the baseball gods for being so cruel.
6:30: After a lengthy chat with a rulebook-wielding man in New York, the umpires uphold their ruling (well their second ruling) which brings another round of madness to the Rogers Centre.
It's riotous in here. Half-full beers flying down onto the field from the upper deck.— Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) October 14, 2015
John Gibbons feebly informs Dale Scott that the game is now being played by the Blue Jays under protest, despite everyone knowing that the outcome would be decided solely on the field. It wasn't getting any better in the Dome though, as a select few fans continued to tarnish the team's supporters as a whole:
Players are pissed at fans for throwing trash from the upper deck. pic.twitter.com/xDObrbHfSb— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) October 14, 2015
6:31: Another umpire conference. Sigh. It's like witnessing a G8 summit at a baseball diamond.
6:33: The game finally gets back underway, with Choo going down to a Sanchez curveball. After the out, Sanchez shows as much emotion as he ever has, barking at Dale Scott on the way to the dugout. If the top half of the inning was one for the decade, then the bottom half was one for the century.
6:37: As Cole Hamels takes the mound to begin the bottom of the seventh, Blue Jays fans are still unsure whether they want to dwell on the no-call that took place 17 minutes ago or get right back behind their team.
The "OK Blue Jays" song played. Most of the stadium BOOED the umpires. #ComeTogether— Cabbie Richards (@Cabbie) October 14, 2015
In an ironic twist of fate, it is the potential goat in Russell Martin that steps up to the plate to begin the action for the Jays. Cole Hamels' 101st pitch of the evening is a fastball in on the hands of the Canuck catcher, with a weak grounder being the best result he could muster. A small amount of breathing room is created though, as shortstop Elvis Andrus misplays the easy out and ensures that all Blue Jays fans are firmly back to rooting on their team. Sure, if Toronto lost then everyone would blame the umpires for their misfortune, but for now they would do their best to will the loveable squad back from the brink of defeat. And will them back they did.
6:40: Kevin Pillar fouls off pitch after pitch against Hamels before tapping a weak ground ball to Mitch Moreland at first base off of a well-located changeup. Karma announces itself back on Toronto's side during the play as Moreland throws extremely low to Andrus, completely handcuffing the 6'0" Venezuelan. What results is another error as Martin slides safely into second, smartly doing his part to position his body as to make the throw extremely awkward on the left-handed first baseman.
6:43: After a botched Ryan Goins bunt rolls foul, Dalton Pompey emerges from the dugout to relieve Russell Martin at second. It was almost as if John Gibbons realized after the first pitch to Goins that he had better have someone faster as the lead runner. It's a good thing the Jays manager got a do-over too. A hard bunt to third baseman Adrian Beltre is quickly relayed to Andrus at third, who is in the midst of a well-executed wheel play. The only thing missing was the ball being caught for the out. Which is actually the whole point of fielding in the sport of baseball Pompey slides in safely as Andrus muffs the ball, loading the bases on three errors with zero outs. Bedlam ensues in the Rogers Centre.
Fans are left with only fading memories of the top half of the inning as they raise their voices in support of the Jays rally. If you were able to step away from the freight train of emotion rumbling through the stadium, you realized something pretty memorable was occurring:
Pretty sure nobody has ever seen all this in a baseball game— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) October 14, 2015
6:45: The unpredictable inning took another hard left turn as Ben Revere's chopper to first base is thrown home for a force out. Of course it would be no regular force out as this was no regular seventh inning. Dalton Pompey's slide chops the Rangers catcher at his ankles and sends him sprawling face-first to the dirt. This brings yet another review as the drama wasn't drawn out enough already. The obviously clean slide is ruled as such, proving that baseball gods may exist after all.
6:51: As if the unimaginable story couldn't get any more ridiculous, Hamels is lifted in favour of former Jays prospect Sam Dyson. The Toronto castaway was destined to leave his stamp on the game one way or the other as he took the mound to face Josh Donaldson. It was a 2-0 hard sinker in on the hands that kept the drama rolling on. Rougned Odor ends up making his first misstep of the series as he horrible misjudges the bloop before letting it drop in behind him for a hit. Ben Revere is forced out at second, but not before the tying run comes across and the Rangers lead from the questionable call in the top half is completely erased.
6:53: Next up, Jose Bautista.
Jose Bautista has waited his entire Blue Jays career for this moment.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) October 14, 2015
The first pitch in on the hands and fouled off.
The second pitch outside for a ball.
The third pitch...history
You have got to be kidding me.— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) October 14, 2015
A bat flip like no other and a baseball moment that Toronto hasn't seen the likes of in two decades.
A man that felt especially relieved was Russell Martin, caught thanking his lucky stars that his errant throw would not come back to haunt the team:
It was far from decided mind you, as this is Toronto and being a sports fan is not easy.
Now the dugouts are clearing. This game, man. Total insanity. #BlueJays— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) October 14, 2015
In the attempt to calm down Blue Jay fans who once again are littering the field with beer cans, Edwin Encarnacion waves his arms towards the stands and pleads for cooler heads to prevail. On the contrary, Sam Dyson takes this as a sign of more showboating and decides to challenge Encarnacion and cause the benches to clear. Much ado about nothing though, as the teams quickly move on from the misunderstanding and carry on with the 6-3 ball game.
7:02: Toronto isn't quite done with Dyson as Encarnacion hits a slow roller to Adrian Beltre which is not even attempted to be fielded by the third baseman. Just as Harold Reynolds remarks, "I don't think I've ever seen an inning like this", Chris Colabello laces an elevated fastball to right field for another single. Thirty minutes prior, Jays fans were convinced their team was crashing out of the playoffs thanks to the biggest chunk of bad fortune imaginable. Now they're celebrating like the ALCS berth was a mere formality with a 6-3 lead in hand.
Cautious fans are more concerned with figuring out how the bridge to Roberto Osuna is going to be constructed, considering the lack of any left-handers in the bullpen. Eventually it is decided that the gap will be traversed by stretching Sanchez and Osuna as long as they'll go and having them meet in the middle. Not the most structurally sound of bridges, but better than a lot of other options John Gibbons has at his disposal.
7:06: A Troy Tulowitzki pop out to end the inning seems relatively innocuous, but this is the seventh inning and nothing is normal.
A strange Sam Dyson butt-tap on Tulo elicits a response along the lines of, 'why did you just touch my bum Samuel?' which results in more hoopla as the benches clear again.
oh man Dyson patted him on the butt and Tulo DID NOT WANT TO BE PATTED ON THE BUTT— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) October 14, 2015
Once again little actual conflict occurs on the field, with both squads going back to their dugouts in fairly orderly fashion. As the FOX jingle takes viewers to commercial break, fans of both sides are left wondering what had just unfolded in front of their eyes.
With more emotion swings than a teenager, the inning featured the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for both fanbases. In a game that will be remembered forever, the seventh frame will live on eternally as what makes baseball so amazing. Every minute brought something that had never been seen before on a diamond and no one in the world knew what was going to happen next.
Fortunately for Blue Jays fans, when it was all said and done the scoreboard read 6-3 in favour of their team. Toronto could be eliminated in four games in the ALCS, but this hour of baseball will never be forgotten for as long as you live. To all the young fans who scoff at the stories of the early 90's glory days because of how unbelievable they seem, good luck explaining this seventh inning to the next generation.