In a season Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins dubbed a “massive disappointment” and “painful”, it may be challenging to reflect upon this season with any degree of optimism. However, there were several noteworthy events (the good kind) to store in your memory bank.
Chris Coghlan’s Leap
Chris Coghlan was a Blue Jay. He played in 36 major league games before landing on the DL in June with a “left wrist contusion” when Steve Pearce needed to be reinstated. However, he managed to guarantee a spot on the Blue Jays 2017 highlight reel in his short stint with the club.
Ryan Tepera Emerges & Gets First Win
After many round trips on the Buffalo Express in 2016, Ryan emerged this year (along with Dominic Leone and Danny Barnes) to become a key reliever in the Jays bullpen, and finished the season tied for the 9th most innings pitched in the majors (77.2). Many point to confidence gained during his extra innings outing in Anaheim (where he held the Angels to one hit over three innings) as the turning point for him.
Jose Bautista also hit a 3-run homer in the top of the 13th, to break his stretch of 68 at bats without a home run.
Cody Allen Serves Ryan Goins a Walk Off Single
After Cleveland knocked the Blue Jays out of contention last year, the Jays were looking for redemption in 2017. They were in the run for their second consecutive series win of the season when closer Cody Allen loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th of Game 3. Allen, along with Andrew Miller, completely dominated the Jays in the ALCS, but this time Ryan Goins managed to knock out a single to secure a game (and series) win. Ryan would go on to tie a franchise record, and end the 2017 season with the most bases loaded hits in the majors (10).
Marcus Stroman Goes Oppo Field
May was an interesting month for the Jays. Having lost Josh Donaldson, JA Happ and Troy Tulowitzki to the DL, they also sent Russell Martin, Aaron Sanchez, Francisco Liriano and Steve Pearce there during the first couple weeks. Despite the injuries, the Jays won back to back series against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, then swept the Mariners at home. Things turned rough in the following series against Atlanta, and on May 18th, they successfully battled to prevent a sweep in a very unusual game. Jose Bautista got beaned in retaliation for his bat flip the day before, and Darrell Ceciliani blew out his shoulder hitting a two-run shot in the 3rd. However, in the top of the 4th, Luke Maile and Marcus Stroman became the first battery to hit back-to back-home runs since 1970. It was also Marcus’ first career home run.
Blue Jays Fans Overtake Safeco Field
The Blue Jays finished the 2017 regular season first in the American League in attendance with 3,203,886 total visitors on the year. Jays fans flocked far and wide to see their team, making their presence know by often selling out stadiums. The Blue Jays’ annual trip to Seattle is always particularly memorable due to it’s close proximity to Western Canada, and this year was no exception as Blue Jays Fans once again turned out in droves to convert the Safeco Field into a Rogers Center West.
Blue Jays Launch “Smoak the Vote” Campaign
One cannot simply talk about highlights in the 2017 Blue Jays season without mentioning the breakout performance of Justin Smoak. Justin signed a two year contract extension back in 2016, which was very widely criticized. After spending some time in the off season with some sports psychologists, Smoak refined his approach and it paid off...majorly. He not only had career highs in virtually every offensive statistic (he batted .270/.355/.529 with 38 homers and 90 RBIs), but he also had a golden glove caliber defensive season, only committing two errors all year. Canada came through and absolutely “Smoaked the Vote,” and Justin was selected to start the game by a margin of over half a million votes.
Roberto Osuna Named All-Star, Reliever of the Month
After blowing three saves early on in the season, Roberto Osuna recorded 22 straight saves in a 33 game stretch from April 29 to July 17th. Despite battling personal issues, Roberto allowed only three runs and walked four batters during that stretch, good for an ERA of 0.86. When they did get hits, batters batted only .121/.153/.178 against him. This secured Roberto the title of “Reliever of the Month” for June, and he was named as a replacement in the All Star Game.
Mike Bolsinger’s 4k Inning
This was a game Blue Jays fans will probably elect to not remember, however, a masterful performance from Mike Bolsinger lingers as a highlight. After a blown save in the 11th, Mike Bolsinger came out for the 12th inning, and retired the side in order. He headed back out for the 13th, and uncharacteristically emerged as a strikeout machine getting four strikeouts in one inning after Jackie Bradley Jr reached on a 3rd strike wild pitch. Bolsinger struck out another two Red Sox in the 14th, before giving up a home run to Hanley Ramirez in the 15th.
Smoak and Morales Go Back-to-Back to Walk off Athletics
After winning the first two games in their home series against the Athletics, the Jays seemed poised to lose the third as they entered the 9th down by two runs. However, back-to-back homers from Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales granted the Jays a dramatic walk-off win, and coincidentally started a series where the team holding the lead going into the 9th in the following seven games would lose in six of them.
Steve Pearce’s Walk Off Grand Slams
In a very eventful game fueled by high emotion (Marcus Stroman and Russell Martin were ejected in the 5th for arguing balls and strikes), Morales tied the game in the 9th with a second solo shot to force extra innings. With two outs and the bases loaded in the 10th, all Steve Pearce needed to do was safely advance the winning run on third the 90 feet to home to secure a four game sweep of the As. And he delivered:
Four days later, they Jays seemed doomed to lose the third home game (and the series) to the Angels. They entered the 9th down six runs, but a two-run homer by Kevin Pillar, followed by three hits and a walk put the Jays within three, loading the bases for Steve Pearce (again).
He did this, to secure the Jays largest 9th inning comeback in franchise history:
Stroman Shuts Out Baltimore
After being held to one run the day before by a team that had given up 5 or more runs in 20 consecutive games, the Blue Jays demanded a strong outing from Marcus Stroman - and he rose the occasion. In a small sample of the dominance Marcus showed on the mound all year, he struck out eight Orioles in his 7 2/3 innings of shut out ball.
Justin Smoak Was Perfect in the All Star Game
Hat Trick for Kendrys Morales
The Baltimore Orioles had the Blue Jays number this year, but Kendrys Morales helped the Jays to play spoiler to a division rival still in contention. In a single game in Camden Yards during an August road trip, Morales hit three home runs and accumulated a career high 7 RBIs.
Kevin Pillar’s Incredible Catch(es)
We have become accustomed to seeing Kevin Pillar make the spectacular catches that he does so often, but every once in a while, a new one will emerge as a strong contender for his best ever. Such an event happened when Toronto hosted Boston for the final time in 2017.
A nice MLB compilation of Kevin’s best catches in 2017 can be found here:
Darwin Barney’s “Slide”
The games the Blue Jays played in the final month of the regular season were sadly meaningless as they weren’t in playoff contention, however, the September call-ups provided a much needed spark and gave fans plenty of joyful moments. We tune in most days hoping for something fun and memorable, and on a Monday in September, Darwin Barney delivered:
Blue Jays Finally Light Up Chris Sale
The Red Sox started Chris Sale four times against the Blue Jays this year. The first three times, the Jays were unable to score a single run off of him. On the fourth try, in a meaningless September game, he served up four home runs. Two to Josh Donaldson (who had been mashing more than his first share of first inning homers), one to Teoscar Hernández, and one to Kendrys Morales. It was nothin’ but a good time.
Clearance Sale. Everything must go! pic.twitter.com/rL3pupgEbb— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 27, 2017
Ryan Goins Plays Houdini
If there’s one thing more fun that successfully playing the hidden ball trick, it might be doing it against the Yankees. Goins would make the ball disappear again later in the game by hitting a grand slam off Masahiro Tanaka.
Toronto Says Farewell to Jose Bautista
We all hoped that Jose Bautista’s various injuries were the source of his disappointing performance in 2016, but as Bautista played out a lackluster 2017 largely injury free, it became apparent this wasn’t the case. Unbeknownst to the public, the front office had already informed Jose they wouldn’t be picking up his mutual option for 2018, and his teammates started to prepare an appropriate send-off. On the last home game of the 2017 season, the plans came to fruition and Jose was bid adieu in a manner that was highly commended by fans and commentators throughout MLB: Marcus Stroman warmed up in a vintage Jose jersey, Jose’s teammates waited for him to take the field alone to start the game, and John Gibbons subbed him out in the 9th to allow for an exit we will always remember.
Biagini Strikes Out Career High 10 Batters in 7 Scoreless Innings
What Was Your Highlight of 2017?
This poll is closed
The Stro Show
The Rise of the Bullpen
Steve Pearce’s Grand Slams
Goins’ Clutch Hits
Pillar’s Superman Catches
Other (Respond in the Comments)
Think I missed something? Feel free to include it in the comments!