My thoughts on the Blue Jays season opener yesterday…

6 04 2012

On Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays opened their 2012 season with the first of three in Cleveland. It looked like the Jays were going to start off with a loss, having given up 4 runs in the 2nd inning, and were trailing by a score of 4-1 heading to the 9th inning.

Little did baseball fans know that they were in for a little history that day.

The Jays scored 3 runs to tie the game up 4-4, and they held the Indians scoreless in their half of the 9th. Going to extra innings.

Both teams had chances to put this game away sooner in the extra frames, but could not score – either by poor hitting or great pitching and defense – some of both at times!

The score remained 4-4 until the 16th inning, when J.P. Arencibia smacked a pitch into the stands in left field for a three-run home run to put the Jays ahead 7-4.

Heading to the bottom of the 16th, the plan was for Jays closer Sergio Santos to come on to pitch the full inning, and get a 3-run save. However, relief pitcher Luis Perez, who had pitched the past 3 2/3 innings, sprinted onto the field and crossed the baselines. Once he had done that, he was required to pitch to one batter before coming out of the game. Santos had to return to the bullpen and wait. Perez got the batter out and then made way for Santos, who did walk a batter, but got the job done, getting the last two outs without giving up a run. The Jays erased a 4-1 deficit, tied it up, and won 7-4 in 16 innings – the longest opening-day game in MLB history, in terms of innings played. The previous record was 15 innings, set twice: once in 1926, and repeated in 1960.

The plan had been for Santos to come in at the beginning of the inning and pitch the entire inning to earn the save. However, because he had to wait until the first batter had been put out by Perez, it turned out he only pitched 2/3 of an inning, and the rule for saves states that for a pitcher to qualify for a 3-run save, he must have pitched a full inning, closing out the game. Santos didn’t pitch the full inning as planned, so no save for him.

In the grand scheme of things, however, this was a great day for the Jays. They showed a “never say die” attitude, though they were trailing for most of the first 9 innings. They held the Indians off the scoreboard for the rest of the game, and came away with the victory in 16 innings. It was a great game to watch, and if the Jays show that kind of attitude the rest of the season, 2012 looks to be a great Jays season to follow. Pundits have predicted that the Blue Jays will likely end up with only some 85 wins for the season, but I think that if they keep the same “never say die” attitude that they showed Thursday, the Jays will end up still in a lot of games that, in past seasons, would have been written off early as losses – and may find themselves winning some of these close games!

Go Jays Go!

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