When Talkin’s Baseball published their best moment for every MLB team post, Blue Jays fans replied with more memorable moments from the team’s season.
Matt Chapman’s walk-off against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre was exciting, but it didn’t quite capture the essence of the confounding campaign. From an electrifying home opener against the Detroit Tigers to the sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in August, the 2023 season offered many uplifting and mind-blowing games to Jays fans despite the grind of 162 games.
There were a few weird and wild walk-offs and blowouts for the Jays, but let’s relive some underrated moments from this year’s rollercoaster ride.
Blue Jays pull off a 12-10 comeback win against the L.A. Angels (April 9, 2023)
With the 2023 season in full swing for spring, this was the series for the Angels to show off their prowess. With designated hitter and pitcher Shohei Ohtani and centre fielder Mike Trout both playing in this game, the tensions were at an all-time high for the Angels’ to avoid a three-game sweep against the Jays. Let’s remember that the game was swaying toward the Angels’ favour when the team scored six runs by the bottom of the fourth inning. Just when everyone thought the Angels were running away with a convincing win, the Jays’ third baseman Matt Chapman hit a grand slam and centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier hit a triple on a sharp line drive to the right field to tie the game to 6-6.
The Jays scored 10 runs in total by the top of the seventh inning but the Angels quickly tied the game to 10-10 in the bottom of the ninth inning with right fielder Hunter Renfroe’s double. The Angels theoretically could have walked the Jays off then but the Jays forced a 10th-inning showdown and managed to score two runs at the top of the 10th with contributions from Kevin Kiermaier and right fielder George Springer. The Jays didn’t make their lives easier when they let the Angels load the bases and walked Mike Trout to make the game even tighter with a 12-11 score, but they managed to secure the win when they forced Shohei Ohtani to ground out. This game was an easy early contender for the Game of the Year but two teams playing a tense but high-scoring game, but is now lost in our distant memory after 152 more games.
Blue Jays defeat the Tampa Bay Rays with a convincing 11-4 win (September 29, 2023)
Most Jays’ fans will recall the team’s road series win against the Rays at the Tropicana Field. That series was one of the most exciting memories from the 2023 season since it featured an inside-the-park home run from right fielder George Springer (thank you, Harold Ramírez for misjudging that ball in the outfield). But when the Rays visited the Rogers Centre, the Jays welcomed them with open arms when they crushed the Rays with an 11-4 win.
Key Jays’ players like designated hitter Brandon Belt, catcher Alejandro Kirk and third baseman Matt Chapman each homered and second baseman Cavan Biggio turned a single towards centre fielder Manuel Margot into an inside-the-park home run. What began as a tight, low-scoring game became a drama-packed, offensive showcase for the Jays. This game demonstrated the Jays’ offensive capability at their best, aside from their 20-1 win against the Rays at the Tropicana Field on May 23rd.
The Opening Day rollercoaster ride with the St. Louis Cardinals (March 30, 2023)
With the renovations happening at Rogers Centre earlier this year, the Jays started their season in Busch Stadium against the Cardinals in late March. The Jays were off to a swimmingly great start when they scored four runs by the top of the second inning. Their trouble started when the Cardinals roared back to tie the game to 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth inning. From that moment on, the Jays and Cardinals traded one-run leads back and forth all the way up to the bottom of the eighth inning and the Cardinals led the game with a 9-8 lead.
When the Jays entered the top of the ninth inning, centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier and right fielder George Springer opened up the game with singles and shortstop Bo Bichette and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. helped to secure the Jays a lead with a score of 10-9. This wild game eventually ended with the Jays’ victory as the Jays successfully kept all Cardinal players off the base. This game was certainly one of the most dramatic season openers for the 2023 season and gave hope to the Jays’ fans about the potential of this team.
Chris Bassitt’s complete game against the Atlanta Braves (May 12, 2023)
It was no secret that the Atlanta Braves were Titans of MLB when they asserted their status as the first place in the National League East and continued to provide consistent offensive explosions. It was a daunting task for the Jays to top the seemingly unstoppable Braves’ offence. Rookie phenomenon Spencer Strider was also a major threat to keep the Jays’ offensive output down as he led MLB in strikeouts. As expected, this was a low-scoring game from the get-go, with starting pitchers Spencer Strider and Chris Bassitt retiring most players at the plate with ease. Bassitt did run into trouble earlier when he loaded the bases at the top of the fifth inning but escaped the jam unscathed with significant help from the Jays’ defence.
Overall, this game’s defensive performance was beyond stellar as the shortstop Bo Bichette and centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier made unforgettable and possibly game-saving catches. With the defence having Bassitt’s back throughout this game, he got the chance to finish the game when he came out for the top of the ninth. Bassitt threw less than 100 pitches to secure a complete game title, while the Jays’ offence scored just enough against Strider and other Braves’ relief pitchers to nab a 3-0 victory. What seemed impossible became possible and ultimately led to a three-game sweep for the Jays against the Braves, showcasing that nothing was impossible for this team.
The Jays didn’t end the 2023 season the way they wanted but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have special and fun moments in a gruelling 162-game stretch. They showed us what they could be and challenged the impossible. Now it’s up to the 2024 season’s Jays to carry on that legacy.
ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO