BOSTON -- The biggest offensive outburst in Blue Jays history took place Friday night at Fenway Park, setting a franchise record for runs in a 28-5 rout of the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays needed just five innings to smash the previous record of 24, set all the way back on June 26, 1978. The organization was just 2 years old. “Grease” was about to overtake “Jaws 2” at the box office. It’s one of the longest-standing records Toronto has.
Toronto’s 25 runs through five innings tied a record that makes you reach even further back. Forget decades -- it has been a full century since a team accomplished that, going back to the Chicago Cubs in 1922. On a historic night stacked to the rafters with team and individual firsts, the Blue Jays entered the second half with a thundering statement.
“That was awesome. Before the game, we talked about how you can come out a little bit sleepy or we came out hot,” said manager John Schneider. “We came out hot.”
Hot? The Blue Jays were scorching, sizzling, fully ablaze.
Toronto’s 28 runs made it just the sixth club in Major League history to reach that number, falling just shy of the all-time AL/NL record of 30, set by the Rangers in 2007. This was also the first time that the Blue Jays have ever had all nine starters record multiple hits and multiple runs, and the first time we’ve seen this in MLB since the 1979 Angels.
The 29 hits? Another franchise record.
In the 7,157 games the Toronto Blue Jays have played since they debuted in 1977, never have we seen something quite like this.
“That’s pretty cool. I can’t wrap my head around it just yet,” said Danny Jansen, who has been with the Blue Jays for five years -- as long as anyone in that clubhouse. “How far we’ve come as an organization, the team we have right now and starting the second half like this? It’s a big thing.”
Individual accolades follow, of course. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s six hits left him just one shy of the MLB record of seven, which you’ll need to go back to 1975 to find. There’s a long list of players to record six in a game, but Frank Catalanotto is the only other Blue Jays player to pull it off, back in 2004.
Tapia came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the third and hit a fly ball to center field. The play itself looked just as forgettable as that description, until center fielder Jarren Duran threw up his hands and had the ball fall 30 feet behind him on the warning track. Tapia raced around the bases, slid head-first into home and was mobbed by his teammates. With the Blue Jays already up 10-0 at the time, who could have predicted there were 18 more to come?
“Hopefully, there’s a little bit of rollover into tomorrow,” Schneider said. “Obviously, the guys are comfortable, and hitting can be contagious. You just ride the wave a little bit. It’s obviously an outlier night, but you take it and run with it.”
To accomplish this with the backdrop of Boston’s Fenway Park only added to the moment. Each of Jansen’s two home runs was a rocket, sailing over the famous Green Monster. The Fenway faithful stuck it out, saving some sarcastic cheers for the rare out made in the 11-run fifth.
There was a marriage proposal on the video board with the Red Sox down 25-3, which will surely make its way into a wedding speech someday. Boston fans even gave “Sweet Caroline” its due. As the music cut out for the eighth inning to resume, the crowd continued a capella, singing “So good! So good! So good!” despite all evidence to the contrary.
What stood out most following the win was not just the celebration, which was well earned, but the players’ insistence on treating this like just another game. Nothing about Friday night was just another game, but as Jansen wrapped up his thoughts, he said, “Now, we’re done with it.” Gurriel even echoed this, fresh off the performance of a lifetime.
“Not just for me, I feel great for the entire team,” Gurriel said through an interpreter. “This was a great day, a good game. One of things we’re actually going to try to do is erase what happened today and get it tomorrow, too.”
Anything can happen tomorrow, but it could be a long time -- maybe another 44 years -- until we see something like this again.