500 Level Fan Year in Review – Monthly Highlights (and Lowlights)

2010 was a great year for the Blue Jays. They vastly outperformed expectations, and saw breakout years from a number of players.

Let’s have a look back at they year that was, month by month, both the good and the bad:

January

Highlight

Jan. 18: Jays avoid arbitration with Shaun Marcum, inking the righty to an $850,000 contract for 2010. He became the de-facto ace for the Jays, finishing with a career high 13 wins, a 3.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Lowlight

Jan. 20: Jays purchase Merkin Valdez from the Giants for cash considerations. Yes it didn’t cost much, but Valdez was effing horrendous. He made two appearances, combning to pitch 1.1 IP, giving up 3 ER, 3 BB, and 2 H for a 20.25 ERA and 3.75 WHIP. Yikes.

February

Highlight

Feb. 2: Jays sign Kevin Gregg to a $2.75-million one-year deal. He didn’t dominate, he made fans sweat, and he walked a lot of batters, but a discount signing that provided 37 saves and a 3.51 ERA, AND the possibility of a compensatory draft pick if signs elsewhere? Win.

Lowlight

Feb. 19: Jays place Jesse Litsch on the 60-day DL. He was in the mix for a spot in the rotation before the injury, but didn’t make his debut until June. Dana Eveland ended up winning the fifth starters job.

March

Highlight

Mar. 22: Shaun Marcum named opening day starter. As stated in January above, this officially made Marcum the staff ace, a position he held all season long.

Lowlight

Mar. 4: Scott Richmond placed on the 60-day DL. See Litsch, Jessie in February.

April

Highlight

Apr. 13: Ricky Romero dominates the White Sox. The lefty took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before hitting A.J. Pierzynski and allowing a two-run HR to public enemy number one Alex Rios. The Jays won 4-2, with Romero allowing only

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the one hit and striking out 12.

Lowlight

Apr. 5: Opening Day. Marcum took a no-no into the 7th, and the Jays had a 4-3 in the ninth before newly minted closer Jason Frasor allowed two doubles, two singles, and a walk to blow the game, and ultimately his hold on the closers role.

May

Highlight

May 31: Adam Lind’s first inning HR gives the Jays a franchise record for home runs in a month with 54. They were only four off the MLB record of 58 set by Baltimore (’87) and Seattle (’99).

Bonus – May 12: 500 Level Fan is officially launched!

Lowlight

May 11: Travis Snider placed on 15-day DL. In the 14 games before his wrist injury, Snider was finally showing his vast potential, hitting .385 with 4 HR, 8 doubles, and 11 RBI. He was supposed to be back by the end of May, but didn’t return until July 30.

June

Highlight

Jun. 20: Two days after attending the funeral of his father, John McDonald comes off the bench to hit a pinch hit home run in the ninth inning in a loss to the Giants. At home. On Father’s Day. Likely the highlight of the year.

Lowlight

Jun 25 – 27: Jays host Phillies in Philadelphia. Due to the G20 Summit in Toronto, the highly anticipated Phillies series at the Rogers Centre – featuring Roy Halladay’s return – is moved to Philly. Blue Jays fans get angry. Very, very angry.

July

Highlight

Jul 4: Wells, Bautista, and Buck named All-Stars. Three representatives are the most sent by Toronto since 2006, and John Buck is the first Blue Jay catcher since Ernie Whitt in 1985.

Lowlight

Jul 9: Toronto is destroyed at home by Boston 14 – 3. The loss is the ninth in twelve games for the Jays, dropping them below .500. It also marks Toronto’s seventh straight home loss to the Red Sox, and their sixth in seven games in 2010.

August

Highlight

Aug 8: Brandon Morrow comes within one out of a no-hitter against the Rays in Toronto. In the best outing of his career Morrow finishes with a line of: CG, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 17 K.

Lowlight

Aug 29: In a 10-4 loss to the Tigers, Brian Tallet allows three runs in one inning in his final apperance of August. The horrific outing ends an atrocious month for the pitcher: 16.1 IP, 6.61 ERA.

September

Highlight

Sep. 17, Sep. 23, Sep. 29: Impossible to separate these three. On the 17th, Bautista slugged his 48th HR of the season to break George Bell’s single season Blue Jay record. On the 23rd, a first inning bomb of eventual Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez gave Bautista his 50th of the year. Then on the 29th, the Jays donned fake moustaches in Farewell Cito night, the iconic manager’s final game in Toronto.

Lowlight

Sep. 28: In his second last home game as manager, Gaston is ejected in the sixth inning as the Jays lose 6-1 to the Yankees. NY clinches a playoff spot on Toronto’s turf, a terrible moment for any Jays fan to witness.

October

Highlight

Oct. 25: Jays name John Farrell new manager. The former Boston pitching coach becomes the 12th manager in franchise history and is tasked with getting the Jays back to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Lowlight

Oct. 3: The Jays win 2-1 in Minnesota behind a great start by Rzepczynski, to end the season at 85-77 – far ahead of expectations. But they still end up in fourth place, meaning 2010 is the 17th consecutive season without a playoff birth for the city.

November

Highlight

Nov. 11: Jose Bautista wins Silver Slugger award for AL OF. After finishing 2010 with 54 HR the award was well deserved.

Lowlight

I tried, but I couldn’t find anything. Losing Buck doesn’t hurt, especially at the price Florida paid, and the Rajai Davis trade could bring benefits. A decent month.

December

Highlight

Dec. 6: Pat Gillick elected to Hall of Fame. The former Jays GM, who lead the team to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93, becomes the 32nd executive to be enshrined. He will be officially inducted next July, hopefully alongside Roberto Alomar, the man he acquired in the biggest trade in Blue Jays history.

Lowlight

Dec. 10: Scott Downs signs with the Angels. We all knew he was leaving, but when it became official it was still hard to take. Downs was a rock in the Toronto bullpen since 2005 and seemed to get better with each passing season. His production will be sorely missed.

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