Photo Credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last night serves as a reminder not to check out

I’ll be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to the Blue Jays over the past month and a bit. You’d probably have noticed that if you follow this website closely or if you follow along on Twitter, there isn’t the same amount of detail attached to the day-to-day happenings of the team. Last night, the team made me regret tuning out.

It’s incredibly difficult to watch a team navigate a rebuild. It’s incredibly depressing knowing that there’s no way the team will be competitive next year or even the year after that. It’s incredibly depressing to think of where we were just three years ago and how quickly it came and went. It’s incredibly depressing to watch Josh Donaldson play for Cleveland. It’s incredibly depressing watching the Blue Jays get rolled over by New York and Boston and it’s even more depressing watching them get flattened by Tampa Bay.

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Given all that, I bet the vast majority of fans out there didn’t even consider watching last night’s game because you just expected to watch the kids get suffocated by the Rays’ frustratingly-good pitching while Tampa Bay inexplicably BABIP’d their way to, like, six runs. 

But if you’re like me and you decided not to watch this rebuilding team full of enthusiastic rookies looking to prove themselves during their September cup of coffee, you’d have missed easily the most incredible moment of baseball in 2018. The Toronto Blue Jays— No, the Toronto Bisons scored seven runs in the ninth inning to walk-off the Tampa Bay Rays.

Down 8-2, Dwight Smith Jr. led off the ninth inning with a double. Smith isn’t a highly touted prospect by any stretch, but he’s continually showed an ability to handle the bat at every Major League opportunity he’s been given.

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Rowdy Tellez continued his magical September with another double to drive in Smith. 8-3 Rays.

After that, Jonathan Davis, a prospect I don’t think anybody figured would ever reach the Major Leagues given the fact he spent most of his time in the system being mistaken for 2013-first-round pick D.J. Davis, worked a 10-pitch at bat, reaching base after being hit by a pitch.

Reese McGuire struck out, but Danny Jansen hammered a ball over the left field wall. These two are actually a hell of a young catching duo. 8-6 Blue Jays.

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Richard Urena struck out, sending Kendrys Morales to the plate with two outs. He singled to keep the the rally alive. Next up was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Gurriel has been one of Toronto’s most impressive rookies this year and he credits countryman Morales to his success. It’s fitting, then, that Morales got on base to give Gurriel the chance to shine. He smacked a ball over the left field wall just shy of the foul pole. 8-8 Blue Jays.

Just moments later, Justin Smoak, who’s suddenly become one of this team’s veteran leaders, ended things by sending a Sergio Romo offering into the Rays bullpen in right field. 9-8 Jays…somehow.

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Just when you thought you couldn’t get enough of the baby Blue Jays overload, David Paulino – one of the prospects that came back with Ken Giles in the Roberto Osuna trade – picked up his first victory of the year with a clean 9th before the madness. Again, pitcher wins are meaningless, but that must have felt good for the 24-year-old.

Look at Tellez, Jansen, and Gurriel. They’ve never experienced anything like this in their careers before. Look at Russell Martin, a guy who’s been in the middle of every big moment the team had in 2015 and 2016 now relegated to a bench role. He’s running out there like the team just won the World Series.

The, like, 5,000 people who stuck around were treated to an absolutely magical inning in which the Large Adult Sons created a glimpse of what the future could look like in Toronto. They also reminded the many of us who had checked out, including myself, why they’re a group worth watching. No matter how difficult it is to watch a young team trudge through a rebuild while the ashes of the beloved 2015 team lay around the league, baseball’s most incredible moments come at the most impossibly random times.

A late-September game against the Tampa Bay Rays gifted those who were willing to be patient easily the best few minutes of the season.

Does it mean anything in the grand scheme of things? Not really, no. The team is still waaaaay out of playoff contention and a lot of the guys involved might not even be here when the team is competitive. But still, watching these kids pull a win out of nowhere like that, treating each at bat like it could be their last in the bigs, is something special. It might not be the thrill of competitive baseball we got a taste of those two wild years, but there’s still something here to enjoy.

  • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

    I admit, I checked out, in terms of watching the Jays since early June. But I check in daily on various sites. For me summer in the Okanagan and taking Jr to the beach after daycare took precedence. But I’m excited to watch them next year. My son will be older and I introduced the Jays in the spring to him.
    I remember watching the jays teams from the early 80’s growing up. They lost a lot but they played hard and were fun to watch. I’m hoping that history repeats itself in having the team grow, play hard and become better year after year until they reach a long competitive window…like the Jays in the 80’s and early 90’s world series teams. I just hope we never ever again have inept management that let the team walk in the wilderness for another 24 years.

    • lukewarmwater

      Paul there is nothing better than introducing your child to the great game of baseball. Even better is if you get a chance volunteer to be a coach for your son as I had the privilege of coaching my son and grandson. Not sure about a great grandson as I will admit I’m not as fast as I once was. But heh what the heck I will try anyway. Btw I’m up in your beautiful area starting Monday, in the quaint fun town of Summerland to buy some fine, fine , fine Okanagan wine. P.S. make sure that under the old Christmas tree in 95 days that there is some fine Jays wear for your growing Jr. Me, some fine Okanagan wine under the tree will keep me happy.

      • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

        Yeah, He was to young to play this year, but I will sign him up for next spring. As for wine, I don’t know any of the wineries in Summerland. Are you planning on going to the Bench, in Penticton? Or will you explore around the Kelowna area as well? If so, check out Grey Monk, Cedar Creek, Quails Gate and Arrowleaf. You’ll have to see the amount of driving, but around each on are other wineries so you can make a full day of it and find some great wines.

        • lukewarmwater

          I definitely will be hitting the Kelowna wineries as well as the Naramata bench, plus Okanagan falls where I will be blasted out of the church the winery is called Blasted Church, and will therefore have to go across the street to the amazing SEE YAH LATER WINERY. I do have a designated driver, so I will enjoy sampling. On the way home we will take the southern route and visit the Osoyoos and Oliver wineries. Man I’m selling one of my homes and investing with a partner in a winery. Only problem is I would be the person serving the wine tasting and I would probably go broke giving the bottles away.
          You will have more fun than junior watching him learn the game that the Boys and Girls of Summer play. Cheers to you.

  • lukewarmwater

    Cam great article. It was around half way through the season after the Red Sox had beaten the snot out of our team that my attitude changed. To quote the late Jack Lord of the original Hawaii Five 0 fame, “just suppose , just suppose this Jays team begins to put together the pillars, yep Kevin will be kept as a fourth out fielder to mentor the youngsters, of the rebuild, similar to what the leafs did in a very short time. Oh sure the defeats would keep coming but then some of the kids got called up, including three young pitchers who after their baptism to the bigs started producing truly solid performances. Yep Pannone, Reid-Foley and the B man have all had outstanding starts. Then the trade guy for Happ comes up and starts playing good defence and gets some timely hits. Add in Lourdes having that amazing streak of 2 hits a game, throw in our new dynamic catching duo and the utterly surprise introducing of the Rowdy One, and this is becoming a fun team to watch.
    Here is the thing Cam, zero, zero pressure on Jay fans as we simply watch this team grow as we did with the leafs. Wow what a play by this kid just called up, namely Nylander. Next season this Auston kid is Awesome, four goals in his first game. Gets the juices flowing thinking of Vlad Jr.’s first week in the bigs.
    So Jay fans I might be a little too optomistic here, but I am truly believing that we got a lot of young prospects a coming who will give us some chills but more importantly THRILLS like that stampeding herd of Buffalo Bisons did in the 9th inning last night.

  • Matty

    Last night was great to see, not only because the future was the present but because it was obvious the vets on this team care and are leaders.

    And Gibby still runs the show.