2022 Blue Jays Retrospective: Bo Bichette’s legendary September, the Wild Card series vs. Seattle, and more
Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Evan Stack1 month ago
Over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look back at the year that was for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bo Bichette Revenge Tour
One of the only ways that Blue Jays fans could describe September of 2022 was simply the name Bo Bichette. Bo went on an absolute tear, in which he was undoubtedly the best hitter in baseball through the first couple weeks of the month.
The numbers are truly eye-popping; Bichette posted a .403 batting average with a 1.134 OPS throughout September, with 7 home runs and 27 RBIs. His 48 hits set the Blue Jays record for most hits in a single month, and if it wasn’t for Aaron Judge, the MLB would have likely named Bichette the AL player of the month.
Let’s take a quick dive into how Bichette did in some of the September series.
September 2-4 @ Pittsburgh: Bichette went 6-for-12, with 5 RBIs. His clutch three-run double in game two of the series broke a 1-1 tie in the 7th inning, sealing the series win. He also added two much-needed insurance runs in the 9th inning of game one with a two-run home run off of Pirates reliever Yohan Ramirez.
September 5-7 @ Baltimore: Bo posted a 10-for-19 stat line in this series, with four home runs and nine RBIs. This highlight of this series was his first career three-home-run game during the latter game of a doubleheader on September 5th. Bichette would homer in his second at-bat the very next game, giving him home runs in four of six at-bats at one point.
Bo’s performance in this particular series was crucial, as it helped widen the gap in the standings between the Jays and Orioles near the end of the season.
September 9-11 @ Texas: Bichette was 6-for-13 with a homer and four RBIs. More specifically, Bichette had three doubles in game two and a triple in game one.
September 12-15 vs. Tampa Bay: Bichette was 9-for-20 with a home run and four RBIs. His only home run was one of the biggest home runs of the season. With the Blue Jays trailing 2-1 in the 8th inning in the first game of the series, Bichette connected on a slider from former Blue Jay Jason Adam. His two-run blast sailed just over the wall in left center field, leaving Adam to shout a couple of expletives amongst himself.
Toronto clinches home field for the Wild Card series
Hitting the homestretch of September meant that magic numbers were shrinking. The Blue Jays were faced with a daunting schedule to conclude the season; their last seven series’ consisted of the Rays twice, the Orioles twice, the Phillies, the Red Sox and the Yankees.
The Blue Jays went 14-9 throughout those seven tilts, en route to clinching their first playoff berth since 2020, and their first home playoff game since 2016.
Among the games that sealed Toronto’s trip to the playoffs was an absolute gem from Alek Manoah on September 24th at Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays had lost the first two games of that series, both of which being typical “Tropicana Field” losses. If you know, you know. Manoah and the Jays put all of that behind them, as he pitched seven shutout innings. He was able to earn the win, thanks to Whit Merrifield’s clutch three-run home run in the 7th inning, propelling Toronto to a 3-1 win.
The Blue Jays would win the fourth and final game of that series, earning a split at the Trop.
The series against the Yankees was an eventful one to say the least: it started with a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walk-off in which he shouted, “This is my house!” as he left the field, and it ended with Aaron Judge tying the AL home-run record with his 61st dinger of the season.
Toronto ended the month with another commanding sweep of Boston, which included them officially securing a Wild Card berth. It was an atypical situation with the clinching, as the Blue Jays mathematically clinched on an off day – September 29th – thanks to a Baltimore loss. Nonetheless, the Jays had a jubilant locker room celebration after the first game of the Boston series.
The playoffs… and the pain that ensued
The 2022 season had quite the dramatic end to it for the Blue Jays, however the drama was seen through a negative lens for Toronto.
Seattle swept the Blue Jays in a quick, three-game series behind a masterclass of a start from Luis Castillo in Game 1, followed by a Blue Jays collapse in Game 2.
Castillo was one of the top names on the trade block throughout the season, and Seattle needed his services for games just like that one. He tossed 7.1 innings of shutout baseball, striking out five and walking none, pacing the Mariners to a 4-0 win in Game 1.
Opposing Castillo was Alek Manoah, who started his first postseason game. Manoah allowed three runs in the first inning, but rebounded nicely afterwards. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t give him any run support, and the Blue Jays were facing elimination rather quickly.
Game 2, as previously mentioned, was headlined by the Blue Jays squandering an 8-1 lead. They were facing Robbie Ray, who had won a Cy Young as a member of the Blue Jays in 2021.
Ray was greeted with two mammoth home runs from Teoscar Hernandez, and he was pulled from the game after allowing four runs through 3+ innings. The Blue Jays scored four more runs in the 5th inning, courtesy of a sac fly, wild pitch, HBP, and an RBI double. The rally towels were going, and the vibes were good, as the 5th inning concluded with the Blue Jays leading by seven runs.
Kevin Gausman was cruising through five innings. He had only allowed one run and struck out seven, six of which came from his patented splitter.
Gausman ran into some trouble in the 6th inning, as Seattle loaded the bases with three consecutive singles to start the frame. Gausman would collect himself, striking out Mitch Haniger and getting Adam Frazier to pop out to first.
Now comes the controversy. Gausman was pulled from the game with just one more out to go before he got out of the jam. Lefty Tim Mayza was his replacement, which really was a head-scratcher, considering his first hitter faced was Carlos Santana, a switch-hitter who statistically hits lefties better than righties.
Mayza allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, and then proceeded to allow a three-run home run from Santana. Just like that, Seattle was back in the game, only trailing 8-5. Gausman’s final line was also blemished, as he was credited five earned runs.
Seattle would chip away some more in the 8th and 9th innings, eventually taking a 10-9 lead. This gave way to a couple of Seattle’s dominant arms in Andres Munoz and George Kirby, the latter being a starter who was sent in to be the closer for that game. The duo closed the game out almost flawlessly, and the Blue Jays season was abruptly ended.
While it ended painfully, the Blue Jays were and still are a competitive baseball team. We’ve already seen the front office make multiple additions to the roster, and it certainly looks as if this franchise is poised for more October baseball in the future.
As 2022 comes to a close, here’s to a successful 2023 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
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