Top Ten Moments in Toronto Blue Jays History - Number 6

Mark Everett Kelly
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@ckmagicsports

Friday, March 20, 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.

 

For the next ten days, I will uncover my perspective on the ten most memorable moments in Blue Jays history.

 

Number 6: Encarnacion Wild Card Walk-off Winner.

Date: October 4, 2016 - Rogers Centre

Opponent: Texas Rangers

Final: Blue Jays 5 Orioles 2 (11)

 

On October 4, 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays faced off against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Wild Card game.  

 

Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37 ERA) got the start for the Blue Jays, who finished 89-73, the same record as their opponent. During the regular season, Toronto defeated Baltimore in ten of the 19 games, securing home-field advantage. Stroman led the team with 32 starts, but his nine wins were the fewest among the five starters (only six pitchers started games for Toronto that season).

 

For Baltimore, they started staff ace Chris Tilman (16-6, 3.34 ERA), who, unlike Toronto, had nine different pitchers start games. Both teams relied on the home run, as the Orioles led MLB with 253, while the Blue Jays finished fourth with 221. 

 

Jose Bautista solo HR in the second-inning off Chris Tilman gave the Jays an early 1-0 lead. Mark Trumbo's two-run HR in the top of the fourth. Toronto tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when 

Ezequiel Carrera's one-out single scored Michael Saunders and chased Tilman. Stroman lasted six innings, allowing six hits and two runs. The outcome was in the hands of each team's bullpen.

 

For Baltimore, Michael Givens retired all seven batters he faced. Brad Brach worked around a one-out single by Carrera, getting Devon Travis to ground into a double play in his second consecutive at-bat. In the ninth, Brach and Darren O'Day escaped trouble after Josh Donaldson's lead-off double. After an intentional walk to Edwin Encarnacion (who had hit a walk-off HR against Brach on June 10), Bautista struck out. Like Devon Travis did in the sixth and eighth innings, Russell Martin ended the rally with an inning-ending double play. 

 

The Jays bullpen was perfect after Brett Cecil allowed a one-out walk to Chris Davis in the top of the seventh. Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli, Roberto Osuna & Francisco Liriano retired 15 consecutive batters. 

 

Brian Duensing struck out Carrera to start the bottom of the 11th. Buck Showalter then went to Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez's rough season saw him eventually demoted to the bullpen after posting a 7.06 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, and winning just five of 18 starts (19 app.). His demotion served as a wake-up call, as he finished the season very strong, going 3-2 over his final seven starts with a 2.45 ERA, 0.86 WHIP & .170 Opp. BA.  

 

Travis singled and raced to third base when LF Nolan Reimold bobbled a single by Donaldson. Instead of intentionally walking Encarnacion as he had in the eighth, Showalter decided to pitch to him after visiting the mound. Encarnacion deposited Jimenez's first pitch deep into the LF stands, giving the Jays a 5-2 walk-off win.