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2022 Blue Jays Retrospective: Things go south, Charlie Montoyo takes the fall, and more

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Photo credit:Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Stack
1 month ago
Over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look back at the year that was for the Toronto Blue Jays. 
Toronto hit the “dog days” of summer in June. Emotionally derailing series’ against the Yankees, Brewers, and White Sox triggered a multitude of question marks around the 2022 Blue Jays, from bullpen ability, to the manager, and even the rotation.
The June 17-19 home tilt against the Yankees was the most telling; the Yankees clearly dominated the first two games of the series, proving to be a whole tier (or two, arguably) ahead of the Blue Jays.
It took a dramatic comeback in the series finale to salvage a game from the Yankees. The Blue Jays trailed 8-3, but a grand slam from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and a three-run homer from Teoscar Hernandez propelled Toronto back in front in an eventual 10-9 win. Although beating the Yankees was fun, and doing it in front of a large weekend crowd was even more thrilling, it was evident that if Toronto wanted to compete for the AL East crown, they were going to have to show that they can beat New York.

Nightmares out west

Toronto’s rock bottom came in early July, as the Blue Jays went 1-6 on a road trip in Oakland and Seattle.
The Jays struggled mightily in Oakland, who were seemingly fielding a AAA team for the entire season. It was hard to create their own energy for that series, factoring in the few thousand people who showed up to watch the games.
Toronto dropped the first two games of that series, and they needed a clutch home run from Bo Bichette in the 8th inning of the final game in order to rescue the series and avoid the sweep.
In Seattle, nothing seemed to go right for the Blue Jays. Some people use that as an exaggeration, but in this series, quite literally nothing went right for Toronto.
The Blue Jays were swept in a four-game set that featured Anthony Banda serving as an opener, as well as lengthened outings from Casey Lawrence and Max Castillo. Toronto was walked off once by Eugenio Suarez, and also had a number done on them by Carlos Santana, who hit a duo of late-inning go-ahead home runs in the series.
Not only did the Mariners wound the Blue Jays with heartbreaking home runs, but the Blue Jays were also on the wrong end of some “one-in-a-million chance” plays.
In the first game, Dylan Moore laced a line drive to left field, where Lourdes Gurriel Jr. looked to have a solid play on the ball. Either Gurriel would catch it, or it would go over his head and off the wall for a likely double. Instead, the ball ricocheted off the glove of a leaping Gurriel and landed over the fence for a solo home run.
In the final game of the series, the Mariners had the bases loaded with one out in the 5th inning. David Phelps had come in to try and limit the damage after Castillo had kept the Jays in the game. Sam Haggerty, Seattle’s 9-hitter, came to the plate and grounded directly back to Phelps on the mound. Phelps threw home to Gabriel Moreno for one out, but Moreno’s throw to first base to finish off the inning-ending double play went through the glove of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., allowing a run to score. The Mariners added another run in that inning, properly summing up Toronto’s trip out west.

Montoyo’s exodus

After the road trip, Toronto’s record sat at 45-42, much worse than where preseason expectations would’ve predicted them to be.
During the late morning of July 13, it was announced that Charlie Montoyo had been fired, a potential move that gained some traction after the Seattle sweep. There were differing opinions on if this was the right move or not, but multiple reports out of the Blue Jays clubhouse made it seem that the managerial change was not a controversial one.
This opened the door for John Schneider to step in. Schneider had built a great rapport with many of the Blue Jays players due to his time in their minor league system. He had seen so many of them grow and develop, so the front office felt that – in the interim – Schneider was the guy for the job.
Schneider earned his first win on the same day that he was promoted, as Toronto defeated Philadelphia 8-2 behind seven strong innings from Ross Stripling.

The entertaining Kansas City series

While Schneider’s first loss was bound to happen at some point, not many could have predicted the fashion in which it came. On July 14, the Blue Jays kicked off a series against the Kansas City Royals, the capstone series of the first half of the regular season.
At 35-53, the Royals were already seen as an underdog in this series, but with the vaccination policies put in place for incoming Canadian travel, the Royals were without a lot of their everyday batting order.
The Royals had ten unvaccinated players, including Andrew Benintendi, Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier and Michael A. Taylor. Amidst a slew of roster moves of promoting players from AA and AAA, the Royals were essentially fielding a AAA team for the entire four-game set.
Despite all of that, the Royals defeated the Blue Jays in the first game of this series by a score of 3-1. Royals starter Angel Zerpa made his second career start and navigated five innings of one-run baseball, while Nate Eaton homered in his major league debut, pulling off one of the more shocking upsets in recent MLB history.
Fortunately for the Jays, they were able to win the last three games of the series, but those were still hard-earned victories. After beating down Zack Greinke in the second game, Toronto relied on late heroics from Alejandro Kirk and Teoscar Hernandez to finish off the third and fourth games of the series to head into the All-Star break at 50-43.
Hernandez’s RBI single walked off the Royals in the 10th inning of Game 3, capping off a comeback after being down by two runs entering the game-winning frame. Kirk, who was prepping for his first MLB All-Star game appearance, capped off his stellar first half with a tie-breaking two-run home run in the 8th inning of the final game giving the Blue Jays a 4-2 win.

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