It’s a little bit dramatic and partially absurd to refer to a game in early June as a “season saving win”, especially when the team in question is within 5 games of the division lead.
But that is exactly what yesterday’s 7-3 win in the second game of a day-night doubleheader felt like. A season saver.
The Blue Jays looked flat, uninspired, and a bit demoralized in the afternoon 2-0 loss. Despite a solid outing by Dickey (continuing his up-and-down season), the Jays were undone by some questionable decision making by John Gibbons, and a season long inability for anyone not named Josh Donaldson to come through in the clutch. With the bases loaded and 1-out in the 7th, Russell Martin came to the dish with a chance to tie the game, but instead bounced into a double play, the kind of soul crushing play that has plagued this team for weeks. The next six batters were easily retired to drop the Blue Jays seven games under .500, and left them with the daunting task of facing Max Scherzer to try to stay out of the AL East basement.
Another loss might have been expected. After all, this was a scuffling team playing their second game of the day, still banged up and missing key players, and having to go against one of the top pitchers in baseball.
But a loss also would have been crushing. The wolves have already begun circling this team. Some fans are calling for Gibbons’ head (I think unfairly). Players are playing out of position, and not very well. Jerry Howarth has curiously started a feud with Jose Reyes. Losing the nightcap would mark the team’s 4th straight loss, and would drop them to last place in the division with a 7-16 record in the past 23 games. With the season approaching the 1/3 mark, it’s not exactly all that early anymore. It might have been a jump-off point for many.
Down 3-1 in the 6th, with Scherzer rolling, it looked like that was exactly going to happen.
But this is baseball, and things turned around, with some of Toronto’s most maligned players coming through. Marco Estrada held the fort, pitching six strong innings. Kevin Pillar, amid screams from fans on social media to send him down, went 3-for-4 with two huge home runs. Russell Martin atoned for his DP earlier in the day by stealing home in the 7th. Liam Hendricks pitched two perfect innings to help people forget his meltdown against the White Sox last week.
It was a win that this team absolutely, desperately needed. Successful teams can usually pinpoint one moment in a season that turned them around and brought them together. With the Jays slowly starting to get healthy, maybe this win can spark them on a nice run and become 2015’s defining moment.
I certainly hope so.