It Was A Very Good Year

2015

2015 was one of the greatest and most exciting seasons in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays.  From the insane displays of power and run production to the transformation of the team at the deadline; from the thrills of winning the AL East for the first time in 22 years to the emotional rollercoaster that was Game 5, 2015 had it all.

Now that we are a few days into 2016, there’s no better time to take a look back at the year that was.  Here is a month-by-month look at everything Blue Jays from 2015.

Happy New Year!

January

Highlight

Jan. 15: Jays avoid arbitration with Brett Cecil, signing him to a 1-year $2.475 million deal.  After struggling early in the season as closer, Cecil rebounds with an absolutely dominating second half stretch, surrendering only 2 unearned runs in 37 appearances from June 21 onward, for an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.66.

Lowlight

Jan. 14: Reports surface that the Jays are pursuing Baltimore Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette to replace the retiring Paul Beeston as their President and CEO.  The news is the first in a series of bad faith tactics by Rogers – negotiating behind Beeston’s back – that will eventually lead to the hiring of Mark Shapiro and the exit of beloved GM Alex Anthopoulos.

February

Highlight

Feb. 13: The Jays win their arbitration case against Josh Donaldson, setting his 2015 salary at $4.3 million.  This is a highlight for two reasons: 1) it very well may have lit a fire under Josh to go out and dominate 2015, and 2) the Blue Jays end up paying the 2015 AL MVP $4.3 million, the 220th ranked salary in all of baseball.  Talk about a bargain.

Lowlight

Feb. 26: Newly acquired LF Michael Saunders tears the meniscus in his left knee after stepping on a sprinkler head in Spring Training.  Saunders, the projected Opening Day LF, is expected to miss half the season, but ends up appearing in only nine games.

March

Highlight

Mar. 31: Toronto confirms that 20-year old reliever Roberto Osuna makes the team out of Spring Training.  Osuna becomes one of the youngest players in the big leagues, and morphs into one of the Blue Jays’ most important pitchers by season’s end.

Lowlight

Mar. 10: Marcus Stroman, Toronto’s projected Opening Day starter and staff ace, tears his ACL in his left knee during pitchers fielding practice and is expected to miss the entire season.  Luckily for the Jays he makes an incredible comeback to return in September, but his presence is badly missed during the early portion of the schedule.

April

Highlights

Apr. 6: Drew Hutchison pitches 6 strong innings and both Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis homer as the Jays beat New York in Yankee Stadium to open the 2015 season.

Apr. 15: Kevin Pillar makes an absolutely ridiculous catch against the Rays, scaling the LF well in the Rogers Centre to rob Tim Beckham of a sure home run.  It is the 5th or 6th highlight reel play of the first few weeks for Pillar, who continues to shine all season long.

Lowlight

Apr. 27: The Jays blow a 5-4 lead in the 8th and lose 6-5 to Boston, the teams fourth straight loss.  It is the fifth time in 20 games that Toronto’s bullpen gives up multiple runs in the 8th and 9th to lose a game.

May

Highlight

May 26: The Jays beat the White Sox 10-9 on a three-run walkoff bomb by Josh Donaldson in the bottom of the ninth.  It is a huge day for Josh, who goes 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, 2 home runs, 4 RBI, and 5 runs scored, becoming the first player in franchise history with 4 hits, 4 RBI, and 5 R in a single game.

Lowlights

May 1-4: The Jays, who started the season with six rookies, lose four of them in four days.  Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, and Miguel Castro are all sent to the minors after terrible starts to the season, and Devon Travis is hurt when a ground ball smashes into his collarbone.

May 17: Toronto loses for the fifth day in a row to fall five games under .500 and into last place in the AL East.

June

Highlights

Jun. 2: Sitting at 23-30, riding a three-game losing streak, and facing ace Max Scherzer in the second game of a day/night doubleheader in Washington, Kevin Pillar hits two home runs in a 7-3 victory, kicking off an 11-game winning streak.

Jun. 12: Drew Hutchison is absolutely shelled in Fenway Park, surrendering 8 runs in 2.1 innings.  However, the Jays rally from an 8-1 deficit to win their 9th straight game.  The highlight of the game is a 9-run 7th inning that sees the Jays score all 9 runs before a single out is recorded.

Jun. 24: Marco Estrada throws an absolute gem in Tampa Bay.  He takes a perfect game into the 8th inning, and finishes with a line of 8.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, and 10 K in a 1-0 Toronto win. The perfect game was preserved in the 8th by an insane catch by Josh Donaldson.

Lowlight

Jun. 21: Brett Cecil allows 4 runs in the 9th as the Jays fall to Baltimore 13-9.  Cecil’s ERA soars to a season worst 5.96 and the lefty is removed from the closer role after the game.

July

Highlights

Jul. 28 – Jul. 31: In a frenzied few days, Alex Anthopoulos overhauls 20% of the Blue Jays roster with four stunning trades.  The acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, LaTroy Hawkins, Ben Revere, and Mark Lowe stun both the baseball world and the Blue Jays fanbase, and transform Toronto from fringe contenders to runaway juggernaut.

Lowlight

Jul. 12: In the final game before the All-Star break, the Jays rally back from an early 7-0 deficit in Kansas City, but watch as the bullpen blows yet another late lead in an 11-10 loss to the Royals.  The loss drops the team back under the .500 mark.

August

Highlights

Aug 3: David Price makes his Blue Jays debut at home and tosses 8 dominant innings against the Twins in a 5-1 win.  He finishes with 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 11 K.

Aug. 7-9: Riding a 5-game winning streak, the Jays face the Yankees in New York in the first of four huge series.  Behind three lights-out starts from Dickey, Price, and Estrada, the Jays sweep the series to climb to within 1.5 games of first.

Aug. 29: Edwin Encarnacion has a game for the ages in a 15-1 victory over Detroit.  EE smashes three home runs – a 2-run shot, 3-run shot, and a grand slam – and finishes with 9 RBI.  Fans shower the field with hats to salute his hat trick.

Lowlight

Aug. 14: In the opening game of the second huge series against New York, the Jays take a 3-0 lead to the 8th only to see Price falter and Aaron Sanchez give up a 3-run HR to Carlos Beltran in relief.  The 4-run eighth inning gives the Yankees a 4-3 win and puts them back into first place in the division.

September

Highlights

Sep. 1: Ryan Goins provides one of the highlights of the season with a 2-run 10th inning walkoff home run against the Indians.  The look of pure joy on his face is priceless.

Sep. 12: Marcus Stroman completes his miraculous recovery from a torn ACL by starting the second game of a doubleheader in Yankee Stadium.  He beats New York 10-7 to extend the division lead to 4.5 games over the Yanks.

Sep. 27: Josh Donaldson hits his third walkoff HR of the season in the home finale, as Toronto beats Tampa Bay 5-4.

Sep. 30: The Jays destroy the Orioles 15-2 in Baltimore to officially clinch the American League East Division for the first time since 1993.  Bedlam ensues.

Lowlight

Sep. 19: Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez implode at home in the 9th inning against the Red Sox, combining to surrender 5 runs and turn a 4-2 lead into a 7-4 deficit.  The Jays eventually lose 7-6, and questions about the strength of the bullpen come back to the surface.

October

Highlights

Oct. 11: Tulo – Part I.

Oct. 14: The Bat Flip.  Boom.

Oct. 19: Tulo – Part II.

Oct. 21: Tulo – Part III.

Lowlight

Oct. 23: Down by one in the ninth inning in Game 6 of the ALCS, the Jays rally and place Pompey on third with nobody out.  But baseball’s most prolific fails to score him, and the Jays fall to the Royals in 6 games, ending the magical season a few games too early.

Oct. 29: In an announcement that shocks everybody, Alex Anthopoulos steps down as Toronto’s GM, citing that the Blue Jays were no longer the best fit.  Virtually all fans of the Jays blame new president Mark Shapiro for AA’s departure.

November

Highlight

Nov. 19: Josh Donaldson is named the Most Valuable Player of the American League, finishing with 23 of 30 first place votes for a total of 385 points, comfortably ahead of LA’s Mike Trout.  Donaldson becomes the second Blue Jay player to win the MVP award, after George Bell in 1987.

Lowlight

Nov. 18: Devon Travis undergoes surgery to repair a preexisting condition in his shoulder and will miss the next 4-5 months.  The surgery ends a frustrating year for Travis, who got off to a great start but then battled injuries the rest of the season.  He is likely to miss at least the first month of the 2016 season (or more) leaving the door open for Ryan Goins to claim the second base job.

December

Highlight

Dec. 3: Ross Atkins is named the 6th full-time General Manager in the history of the Blue Jays. The longtime Cleveland Indians executive who worked with Shapiro for years was anointed ahead of longtime Blue Jays executive Tony LaCava, who was serving as interim GM.  It is Atkins’ first GM job, and he has very, very big shoes to fill.

Lowlight

Dec. 4: David Price signs a mammoth 7-year $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox.  The odds of Price returning to Toronto were always slim, but his departure stings extra hard by the fact that 1) he joins a division rival and 2) news leaks that Toronto never even offered him a contract.  Fan anger towards Shapiro increases exponentially.

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