A bat flip for the ages. A division title. And more home runs than any other team in the major leagues this year. That was your Toronto Blue Jays.
As 2015 draws to a close, we took a look back at some of our favourite moments from your boys of summer.
10. Russell Martin and his dad
Before the season even started, the Jays brought baseball back to Montreal and off-season acquisition Russell Martin brought tears to our eyes. The Blue Jays invited Martin's dad, Russel Martin Sr., to play the anthems at an April 3 exhibition game. He brought the house down and the two even shared a lovely moment together.
Russell Martin Sr., father of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, performs the National Anthems on his saxophone prior to the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, April 3, 2015 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Vincent Ethier/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Russel Martin, Sr. fist bumps his son Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin #55, after playing the National Anthems on his saxophone
9. Blue Jays and the Royals brawl
In a few short seasons, the Kansas City Royals went from lovable underdogs to the bullies of the American League. In August, the Royals ruffled more than a few feathers when they visited Toronto. The fourth game of that long-weekend series saw bean balls, tempers flaring, a brawl and the Jays standing tall to win three out of four games.
Most infuriating moment for Jays fans? Royals pitcher Edison Volquez taunting Josh Donaldson. who he hit with a pitch. "He’s a little baby. He was crying like a baby,” Volquez said after the game.
8. Josh Donaldson's catch of the year
dreamboat third-baseman Josh Donaldson had plenty of timely hits this year, but we're going to highlight this truly mind-bending catch.
When asked about the catch, Donaldson told Sportsnet that he wanted to do everything he could for pitcher Marco Estrada, who had a perfect game going. "At that point of the game, as far as the score and then as far as what Marco was doing, I was willing to lay it on the line and take a couple of bruises to hopefully get him another out.” That's why he's your MVP.
7. The nine-run inning in Boston
In 2015, no lead was safe when the Toronto Blue Jays were up to bat. In a game against Boston in June, the Jays, down 8-4, scored nine runs against divisional rival the Red Sox.
6. Kevin Pillar becomes Superman (again and again)
At the start of the 2015 season, Kevin Pillar wasn't sure if he was going to be playing much for the Blue Jays. By the end of the season, we couldn't imagine anyone else patrolling the far reaches of the Rogers Centre outfield. Just look at this catch.
This fan-created T-shirt could not be more accurate.
5. David Price debuts, charms Toronto
When the Blue Jays announced they had signed ace pitcher David Price at the trade deadline, it was clear the team was in it to win it. The Blue Jays, coming off an emotional but dominating series against the Kansas City Royals, debuted Price before a full house at Rogers Centre. He did not disappoint.
Price struck out 11 batters in his first game as a Blue Jay. Off the field, Price was also an amiable charmer. He praised the fans, he brought his teammates scooters and that smile. We'll miss you David.
David Price. (Cole Burston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
4. Encarnacion's home run hat trick
It was one of the more eye-popping offensive feats in a season full of them. Designated Hitter Edwin Encarnacion toyed with the Detroit Tigers pitching and popped three home runs in a late August game. The Jays would go on to win that game 15-1. In true Canadian fashion, fans showered the field with hats in tribute.
3. Winning the AL East
Blue Jays fans had waited decades for this moment: the Blue Jays were the winners of the American League East. The resulting celebration gave us a lot of champagne and beer showers, ski goggles and maybe the funniest ever photo of Munenori Kawasaki.
2. Marcus Stroman's playoff return
Few stories are as inspiring as Marcus Stroman's. The Blue Jays pitcher was injured in a freak accident during spring training and likely out for the season. He vowed he'd be back on the mound in September. Stroman was right. He returned late in the season, regained the trust of his team and pitched in the most important game the Blue Jays would have all year, the final and deciding game in the ALDS. Along the way, Stroman's catchphrase, "Height Doesn't Measure Heart" became a mantra among some Blue Jays fans. It's easy to see why.
Seems like it's nothing but Stroman reaction GIFS tonight. pic.twitter.com/HJ1T0HBrad— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) September 24, 2015
1. The Bautista bat flip
There really isn't anything else to be written about that inning, the hit, the flip, and the way Jays fans felt after Game 5 of the ALDS. Sure there was more baseball after that. And we didn't take home a World Series. But we wouldn't trade this moment for anyhing in the world.
Thank you, Jose.
Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays flips his bat up in the air after he hits a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers in game five of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
See you in the spring.
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