The Blue Jays will become the Red Jays for Canada Day tomorrow and we’re celebrating early at BackinBlue with a look at the Top 10 Canada Day Games in Blue Jays history.
I thought about limiting this list to Jays wins, but not only would that be tough to do because it limits the scope so much, but it would also cut out a few memorable performances by the opposition. If I did limit it to Canada Day wins I’d only have 11 games to choose from. Toronto actually has posted a disappointing 11-22 record on Canada Day. If you’re wondering why that only adds up to 33 games instead of 35 it’s because of the Player’s Strike in 1981 and for some reason the Jays had an off day on July 1 in 1993.
Out of those 33 Canada Day games 22 of them have been played at home, nine at Exhibition Stadium and 13 at Sky Dome. In those 22 games the Jays are 9-13 with a 2-7 record at the Ex and a 7-6 record at the Dome. The Jays road record on Canada Day is a lame 2-9.
If the MLB schedule makers were smart they would schedule the Blue Jays to play at home EVERY Canada Day. It’s a guaranteed sellout every time the Jays play at the Dome on July 1 and the added celebration that comes along with it is just a bonus. Some fans or other teams may say it’s not fair for the Jays to play at home on a certain date every season, but if the Red Sox can play in Boston every year on Patriots Day (Marathon Monday) then the Jays should be able to play in Toronto on Canada Day. Enough said on that rant so on to the list.
The Blue Jays were on the road for Canada Day in 2004 and utterly destroyed the Devil Rays in a 14-0 blowout. The Jays pounded out 20 hits in the win with four of them coming off the bat of Frank Menechino from the lead off spot.. One amazing point about this game is that the Jays scored 14 runs without hitting a single home run.
Eric Hinkse had a solid Canada Day going 3-6 with three RBI, while Josh Phelps was 3-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. Every Jays starter collected at least one hit in the onslaught.
On the mound starter Miguel Batista would have needed only one run to secure the win. He held the light-hitting Devil Rays to no runs on five hits while striking out three over seven innings. Tampa Bay starter, and former Jay, Mark Hendrickson lasted only three innings after getting roughed up for seven runs on eight hits.
The Blue Jays recorded their first Canada Day win in 1978 thanks in part to a big day from Rico Carty and a solid outing by starter Tom Underwood.
Toronto jumped out to an early lead after plating three runs in the first inning. Rick Bosetti and Bob Bailor started off the game with back-to-back singles and a Roy Howell walk loaded the bases. Carty drove in the game’s first run on a sac-fly, while Otto Velez drove in two more with a double.
After the Indians scored a run in the second, Carty got that run back with another sac-fly in the third. The pitchers held both clubs at bay until the eighth when Cleveland cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2. In the bottom of the eighth Toronto’s offense awoke as Sam Ewing cracked a two-run pinch-hit home run and Howell added an RBI single. Carty added more insurance with a two-run single that scored Bailor and Howell.
Carty finished the game with four RBI, while Underwood was steady on the mound, allowing three runs on seven hits over seven innings to pick up the win.
8. Canada Day, 1998
Mets 10 – Blue Jays 15
The Blue Jays came out on top in a slugfest against the Mets in which the two sides combined for 25 runs and 29 hits. The bullpens were busy on both sides as the Mets used seven pitchers in the loss and the Jays sent five different arms to the mound.
The Jays got on the board first on a sac fly by Carlos Delgado in the first inning. The Mets didn’t score their first run until the third after Edgardo Alfonzo took Woody Williams deep for a two-run shot. The Jays struck back quickly in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single from Tony Fernandez and an RBI double off the bat of Mike Stanley, making it 3-2 Blue Jays.
A Butch Huskey RBI single tied it in the fourth and John Olerud hurt his former club with a three-run home run in the fifth to give the Mets a 6-3 lead. That lead didn’t last long though as Shawn Green hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth, followed shortly by a RBI-single from Darrin Fletcher, which tied the score 6-6.
Alfonzo returned the lead to the Mets in the seventh with his second home run of the day, a solo shot to make it 7-6 Mets. Again, the lead was short lived with the Jays tying it in the bottom of the inning on a double by Delgado. Huskey quickly gave the Mets another lead in the eighth with an RBI single.
Down 8-7 in the eighth the Jays blew it open. After back-to-back singles by Felipe Crespo and Ed Sprague, Alex Gonzalez hit a three-run home run off Mel Rojas. A rattled Rojas then hit Shannon Stewart and walked Shawn Green. A double by Fernandez brought home Stewart and Mark Dalesandro plated Fernandez on a sac fly after the Mets intentionally walked Mike Stanley. After Crespo was hit by a pitch to load the bases Sprague cleared them with a double to center. After the dust settled on the inning the Jays led 15-8.
The Mets would score a pair in the ninth, but it was nowhere near enough in a 15-10 Toronto win. Sprague and Gonzalez both had three RBI in the win, while Stewart was 3-5 with four runs scored.
The Jays pulled out a close win on Canada Day, 1984 thanks to a four-run seventh inning.
Oakland took the lead early on after current Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy took Jays’ starter Luis Leal deep for a solo shot in the first inning. Oakland continued to pour it on in the second inning, tacking on three runs, spurred on by a two-run single by future Jay Tony Phillips.
Toronto cut into the lead in the bottom of the second on a sac-fly by Buck Martinez and they continued to chip away at the lead in the fourth as Jesse Barfield launched a solo shot. Dave Kingman got those runs back with a two-run blast of his own in the fifth and Oakland held a 6-3 lead heading into the seventh inning.
In the seventh the Jays offense exploded. Lloyd Moseby delivered a one-out single and moved to second on a wild pitch. George Bell sent him home with an RBI-double to cut the lead to 6-4. Cliff Johnson kept the rally going with a single then Jesse Barfield brought them all home with his second home run of the day making it 7-6 Blue Jays.
Roy Lee Jackson pitched a perfect eighth and ninth inning to record the save and Toronto topped Oakland 7-6. Barfield was the hero on the day going 4-4 with the two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored.
Canada Day 2002 was spoiled by a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox. However, Blue Jays fans were treated to an absolute gem by Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez.
Steve Parris got the start for the Jays and pitched well, but could not match Martinez. Parris took the loss after surrendering four runs on 10 hits over seven innings. The Red Sox scored a pair of runs in the second on a Tony Clark single and with Pedro on the mound that would be all they would need.
In the first inning Martinez retired the Jays in order finishing off the inning with a strikeout of Eric Hinske. That would be the first of many strikeouts for Martinez on the day. Vernon Wells picked up the Jays first hit of the game in the second, a double to left, but he was stranded there after Martinez caught Pedro Swann looking.
In the third Martinez notched two more Ks and recorded another pair of strikouts in the fourth, negating a pair of singles by Toronto. The strikeouts kept coming in the fifth when Martinez struck out the side. He sent down Hinske swinging and Delgado looking in the sixth and whiffed Swann again in the seventh. Before exiting the game after the eighth inning Martinez collected two more strikeouts.
Over eight innings in the 4-0 Boston win Martinez notched 14 strikeouts while allowing seven hits and walking none. Even with the 14 strikeouts he only needed 117 pitches to get through the eight innings.
Taking it to the defending World Series champions on Canada Day is always a great way to celebrate. On Canada Day, 2005 the Jays were at Fenway Park, again, and beat up on the Red Sox.
The Jays didn’t get on the board until the fourth inning when they began teeing off on Red Sox starter Matt Clement. Alex Rios started the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Orlando Hudson’s single sent Rios to third and a Russ Adams single followed by a Frank Catalanaotto base hit gave Toronto a 3-0 lead. The Jays weren’t finished though, as Aaron Hill plated the Cat to give the Jays a four-run lead.
Boston got one run back in the fifth on a Johnny Damon solo home run, but Toronto got that back and more in the sixth. Following a single by Gregg Zaun and walks to Eric Hinske and Hudson, Adams drove in a run on a single and the bases remained loaded. Reed Johnson then pinch hit for Catalanotto and clubbed a grand slam putting the Jays up 9-1.
The onslaught continued in the seventh thanks to a lack of control from Matt Mantei. The Boston reliever started the inning by walking the first three batters he faced. Hinkse made him pay for it with a two-run double. After a Rios walk, Adams singled and Johnson doubled putting the Jays up 15-1. The final score would end up 15-2.
Johnson finished the game with six RBI, while Adams had one of the best games of his career, going 3-6 with four RBI and three runs scored. Ted Lilly also had a strong game on the mound, limiting the Red Sox to one run on seven hits over six innings.
Toronto needed extra innings to take care of the Rangers on Canada Day, 1992.
Juan Guzman got the ball for Toronto that day and he quickly retired the Rangers in order in the first. In the second inning Texas started it off with a Ruben Sierra single and he moved into scoring position by stealing second. Guzman got two quick outs, but couldn’t get out of the inning unscathed after Dickie Thon plated Sierra with a single. Guzman got into more trouble after Thon stole second and he walked Jeff Huson. With John Cangelosi at the plate the Rangers pulled off a double steal to put runners at second and third. Guzman got out of it by striking out Cangelosi looking.
Toronto quickly erased the Rangers lead in the bottom of the second. Derek Bell was hit by a pitch by Rangers starter Todd Burns and he moved to third on a double by Pat Borders. Bell came in on a Jeff Kent sac fly to tie the game 1-1.
After the second inning both starters got into a groove and didn’t allow another run until the eighth. Between the second and the eighth Guzman allowed only two Rangers to reach base and retired the side in order three times. Burns was also highly effective, retiring 16-straight Blue Jays at one point.
The Rangers got to Guzman again in the eighth after he began the inning by walking Huson. After Huson moved to second on a Cangelosi groundout he came around to score of a Dean Palmer single. That was all the Rangers would get though and they would head to the bottom of the inning leading 2-1.
In the bottom of the eighth Borders led off with a double, the first Toronto batter to reach base since the second inning. After a fielder’s choice Burns’ day was done and he was replaced by Jeff Rusell. Russell induced another fielder’s choice which left Manuel Lee at second with Devon White at bat with two out. White ripped a triple to right to score Lee and tie the game 2-2.
Duane Ward entered the game for Toronto and cruised through the ninth inning, retiring all three batters in order. The Jays also went in order in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. Ward returned for the tenth, but ran into a lot of trouble. He got the first batter to foul out, but then walked three in a row, issuing free passes to Huson, Cangelosi and Julio Franco. With the bases loaded and one out Ward got Palmer to pop out to the catcher. He then retired Raphael Palmeiro on a fly ball to left to get out of the inning leaving the bases loaded.
In the Jays half of the tenth they ended it rather quickly. Derek Bell led off the inning with a bloop single to right fielder. Greg Myers got his first at bat of the game next after taking over behind the plate for Borders, who was pinch run for in the eighth. Myers drove in Bell on a double to give the Jays a 3-2 win.
Guzman may not have picked up the win in the game, but he kept Toronto in it, going eight innings and allowing two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts.
Ricky Romero made his first Canada Day start in 2009 and didn’t disappoint in a dominating effort against the Rays.
Romero started the game off on the wrong foot by walking lead off batter B.J. Upton. Upton didn’t get far though as Romero caught him napping at first and picked him off. Romero then struck out Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria to end the first.
Over the next three innings Romero allowed only one batter to reach base while striking out four. The Jays would provide Romero with all the runs he would need in the third after Marco Scutaro doubled off James Shields to score Jose Bautista. Toronto also rocked Shields with the long ball in the win as Rod Barajas, Adam Lind and Scott Rolen all hit solo home runs.
In the fifth Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a single, but Romero retired Pat Burrell and Jason Bartlett and Zobrist was caught stealing second after Romero picked him off. Romero cruised through the sixth in order before running into a little trouble in the seventh. After a single by Crawford and a fly out by Evan Longoria Carlos Pena reached on a single and Zobrist walked to load the bases. Romero got out of the base loaded jam by getting Burrell to ground into a double play.
Romero exited the game after the eighth inning having allowing only four hits while striking out seven to improve to 6-3 on the season.
July 1, 1997 was the only Canada Day that the Blue Jays faced the Expos. Toronto sent Roger Clemens to the mound, but he ended up being bested by Montreal’s 6′ 7” hurler Jeff Juden.
The game was a pitching duel from start to finish, but the Expos actually got to Clemens early with a one spot in the first and second innings. In the first F.P. Santangelo hit a two-out single off Clemens and then scored all the way from first on a David Segui double. In the second inning Rondell White made it 2-0 Montreal after clubbing a solo home run. Clemens quickly settled down after that and did not allow another run over the next 6 1-3 innings.
The two-run lead would be all Juden would need on the day. Juden walked the first batter he faced in the game, Otis Nixon and also gave up a first inning free pass to Carlos Delgado. Neither came around to score and after the first Juden was practically untouchable.
In the second inning Juden retired the Jays in order, finishing off the frame by striking out Alex Gonzalez swinging. Juden went three-up-three down for the next five innings, retiring 19 straight.
Juden entered the eighth inning with a no-hitter still intact, but Shawn Green changed that by leading off the inning with a solo homer. After Green’s homer Juden struck out Charlie O’Brien and Gonzalez and retired Tilso Brito on a fly out.
Juden came out for the ninth and continued to throw smoking with a strikeout of Otis Nixon. Orlando Merced reached first on a single to left (only the second Toronto hit of the day) and that chased Juden from the game. Expos’ closer Ugueth Urbina took the ball and recorded the save after striking out Joe Carter and getting Delgado to fly out to center.
The final line on Juden, who improved to 10-2 with the win, was one run on two hits with 14 strikeouts over 8 1-3 innings.
1. Canada Day, 1991
Mariners 3 – Blue Jays 4
The Blue Jays pulled off an exciting ninth inning comeback on Canada Day, 1991 after scuffling most of the day against Seattle lefty Randy Johnson.
David Wells got the start for Toronto and gave up a lead-off double to Edgar Martinez, but sat the next three batters down keep Seattle from scoring. Johnson started the game by striking out Devon White then he got Roberto Alomar to pop out and Joe Carter to groundout.
The Mariners got on the board in the second inning after Alonzo Powell led off the inning with a solo home run. Johnson retired the next six batters he faced but White got to him in the fourth, leading off the inning with a solo home run. Johnson wasn’t fazed by the White home run though, as he struck out the side in the fourth and went three-up-three-down in the next four innings.
Wells also cruised following Powell’s second inning home run, keeping the Mariners off the board until the seventh inning. In the seventh Jeff Schaefer reached on a single and Dave Valle followed that with a two-run home run to give Seattle a 3-1 lead.
With the Mariners still clinging to the two run lead Johnson came out for the ninth inning looking to finish off the complete game. Mookie Wilson got a Toronto rally started with a lead-off double and White reached on an error by Johnson who made a poor throw to first. The error also allowed Wilson to move to third and White on to second. That forced Johnson from the game and he was replaced by closer Mike Jackson. The first batter Jackson faced was Alomar who rocked a double to right that scored both Wilson and White to tie the game. With none out Alomar stole third. The Mariners then intentionally walked both Carter and John Olerud to load the base for Ed Sprague.
With Sprague scheduled to bat the Mariners took out Jackson and sent Rob Murphy to the mound. The Jays in turn pinch hit Rance Mulliniks. He hit a weak groundball to Omar Vizquel short, but the Seattle defense faltered again as catcher Valle couldn’t squeeze the throw which allowed Alomar to score the winning run.
The Mariners ended up wasting a strong effort from Johnson, who allowed only two earned runs on three hits with 11 strikeouts over eight innings.
Happy Canada Day everyone! Now, Go Jays!