Top Ten Moments in Toronto Blue Jays History - Number 3 (tie)

Mark Everett Kelly
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Monday, March 30, 2020

While we await the start of the 2020 MLB season (whenever it occurs), I thought a look back at some historical memories to carry sports fans through would be therapeutic.


I apologize for the week delay. 


3: Sprague, Winfield Lead Quest for 1st World Championship

Date: October 17-24, 1992

Opponent: Atlanta Braves


I couldn't decide to choose Ed Sprague's GW HR in Game 2 of the 1992 World Series, or Dave Winfield's GW, double in Game 6. Since I make the rules, I chose both!


Game 2 of the 1992 World Series saw the Blue Jays facing an 0-2 deficit in the series as they came to bat in the top of the ninth trailing 4-3. Ed Sprague, the Jays back-up catcher, pinch-hit for RP Duane Ward with Derek Bell on first and one out. 


The Braves bullpen finished the regular season with eight different players collecting a save, matching their total from the previous season. Many baseball historians felt that Atlanta not finding a consistent closer cost them the 1991 World Series.  


Hoping to address their need for a lights-out technician to finish off teams, Atlanta acquired Jeff Reardon from the Red Sox on August 31. Reardon recorded 51 saves for Boston in 1991 and was the all-time leader in saves with 357, collecting two more than Lee Smith by the end of the 1992 season.


Sprague launched Reardon's first pitch over the wall in left-center field to give the Jays their first lead of the series. Tom Henke allowed two baserunners in the bottom of the ninth, but he induced Terry Pendleton to pop out, giving Canada their first World Series win.


Sprague joined a shortlist, consisting of Kirk Gibson and Dusty Rhodes to come off the bench and hit a GW HR in the 9th inning or later. 


Game 6 - Winfield's Double Clinches Series


Toronto entered Atlanta for Game 6, one win shy of their first World Championship. David Cone and three relievers held the Braves to one run and five hits over eight innings, as the Jays held a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the 9th.


As he did in Game 2, Henke allowed two baserunners but was a strike away from clinching the series as Otis Nixon stood at the plate. Nixon slapped Henke's 0-2 pitch beyond the reach of SS Manny Lee. Jeff Blauser, trying to score the tying run from second, was barely at third base as Jays LF Candy Maldanado picked up the hit. Perhaps still thinking about barely snaring Francisco Cabrera's line drive the batter before, which almost went over his head and would have given the Braves the win, Maldanado threw the ball into Alabama, allowing Blauser to score the tying run.


After both teams failed to score in the 10th inning, Jays veteran Dave Winfield came to the plate with two outs and two runners on against Charlie Liebrandt in the bottom of the 11th. Playing in his 19th MLB season, the 40-year old doubled down the third-base line, scoring Devon White and Roberto Alomar. 


The Braves cut the Jays lead to one, and pinch-runner John Smoltz stood on third base as Nixon once again came to the plate trying to save the Braves season. 


Jays manager Cito Gaston lifted Jimmy Key for Mike Timlin, turning Nixon around to bat left-handed (Nixon's BA was 80 points higher against LHP than RHP - .343/.263). Trying to use his speed to get Smoltz home with the tying run, Nixon tried to push past the pitcher, but Timlin bounced off the mound and threw Nixon out at first, giving the Jays their first World Title.