Last night, Mike Bolsinger made history.
In the bottom of the 13th inning, Bolsinger became the second Blue Jay and 80th Major Leaguer to strike out four batters in one inning.
Bolsinger punched out Mitch Moreland, then he struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. but the ball bounced up into the netting behind the plate. Then, with the winning run on base, Bolsinger punched out Christian Vasquez and Devin Marrero. He ended up taking the loss after allowing Hanley Ramirez to club a walk-off moonshot in the bottom of the 15th inning, but Bolsinger’s performance was good enough to enshrine him in the Blue Jays Extra Innings Hall of Fame.
Playing in marathon games has become a Blue Jays tradition in recent years. As a result, we’ve seen some unexpected players garner hero status.
In 2013, the Blue Jays and Texas Rangers — who, at that time, were just the Texas Rangers to us — played an 18-inning game. Mark Buehrle put together an excellent start, but Casey Janssen blew the save in the ninth inning by allowing two runs. Dustin McGowan, Juan Perez, Neil Wagner, and Brett Cecil pitched the next four innings before Brad Lincoln pieced together four innings of shutout ball on his own. The Jays ended up winning on a walk-off single by Rajai Davis.
Lincoln’s line: 4 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, three strikeouts.
In 2014, the Blue Jays and Tigers played the longest game in franchise history. Mark Buehrle got lit up, allowing five runs in three-and-a-third, but the Jays mounted a rally off of David Price — who was still just David Price to us — and Jose Reyes singled in Anthony Gose in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game. The ridiculous thing about this game is how the ‘pen managed to go 15 2/3 innings combined after Buehrle was knocked out. That was highlighted by Chad Jenkins pitching the game of his life. Jenkins worked the 12th through the 19th, shutting the Tigers down before Jose Bautista walked off Rick Porcello.
Jenkins’ line: 6 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts.
In 2016, we got the weirdest one of them all. The Blue Jays and Clevelanders played a game on Canada Day that spanned lifetimes. The only runs were a Jason Kipnis single and a Justin Smoak homer as both team’s pitching staffs completely shut the bats down. Bo Schultz, operating on a hip injury, managed to slide through two-and-two-thirds innings, but by the time the 18th inning rolled around, the Jays were completely gassed. All seven of their relievers had pitched, and with a heavy schedule ahead, they didn’t want to use a starter. So John Gibbons elected to bring in Ryan Goins. He allowed a couple of singles, but after an intention walk, Goins got Chris Gimenez — another position player who has experience pitching — to ground into a double play. It was Darwin Barney’s turn next, but he allowed a leadoff homer to Carlos Santana, and the Clevelanders won 2-1. Goins earns a spot because he’s a position player who tossed a clean inning, and Barney earns one because, despite picking up the loss, he struck out an MLB hitter, Mike Napoli.
Goins’ line: 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 walks, 0 strikeouts.
Barney’s line: 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 0 walks, 1 strikeout.
That brings us to Tuesday night. Yes, the Jays ended up with the loss and it adds yet another anecdote to the never ending nightmare that has been 2017, but Bolsinger deserves praise here. He tossed three shutdown innings, giving the Jays ample opportunity to win, and struck out Moreland, Bradley, Vazquez, Marrero, Brock Holt, and Andrew Benintendi, which is impressive stuff. Amazingly, Bolsinger came just one strikeout from trying a single-game career-high with seven.
Bolsinger’s line: 3 1/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 6 strikeouts.
The four strikeouts in one inning has only been done once by a Blue Jay before. Steve Delabar pulled it off back in 2012 when he struck out Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers, who went to first on a wild pitch, Gordon Beckham, and Alejandro De Aza before the Jays won on a David Cooper walk-off single in the 11th.
Delabar’s line: 2 IP, 0 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts.
It’s a shame Bolsinger didn’t end up with the win, but this is an extra inning performance that deserves to be up there with Jenkins, Lincoln, Goins, Barney, and Delabar in Blue Jays history.
@cooom May I petition the induction of Roy Halladay for his 10th inning in his 10-inning shutout?— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) July 19, 2017
I know I missed some good performances, but this one I need to edit in. Roy Halladay, the legend, carried the Blue Jays to a 1-0 victory back on Sept. 6, 2003 over the Tigers. Halladay tossed 10 innings, scattering three hits and one walk while striking out five. The Jays finally rewarded their starter in the bottom of the 10th inning when Bobby Kielty drove in Eric Hinske on a two-out single off of Fernando Rodney.
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