TORONTO -- As the end of the calendar year approaches, another decade of baseball moments and memories will soon be in the rearview mirror. But the last 10 seasons had several highlights and matchups that won’t easily be forgotten in Toronto.
Here are the Blue Jays’ top 10 games of the decade:
1. The bat flip
October 14, 2015
With Toronto in the postseason for the first time since 1993, Jose Bautista hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history -- certainly the most monumental of the decade -- to help the Blue Jays secure the American League Division Series and push them into the ALCS. Bautista’s three-run homer capped a frenzied, 53-minute seventh inning that gave Toronto a 6-3 win over the Rangers in Game 5 at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays became the third team in history to win a best-of-five postseason series after losing the first two games at home, joining the 2001 Yankees and 2012 Giants.
2. The Wild Card win
October 4, 2016
After nine innings, the winner-take-all matchup was deadlocked between the Blue Jays and Orioles and would need extra frames to be decided. When Edwin Encarnacion stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 11th, he was facing Ubaldo Jimenez with runners on the corners. He swung at the first pitch and sent it over the wall in left field, hitting the second postseason homer of his career to secure the 5-2 victory and send Toronto to the ALDS for a second consecutive season. It was the 10th extra-inning, winner-take-all postseason game in baseball history.
3. McDonald’s Father’s Day home run
June 20, 2010
Two weeks after John McDonald departed the team so that he could spend some final moments with his ailing father, Jack, and two days after Jack’s eventual funeral, the shortstop returned to Toronto. With the Blue Jays down by six on Father’s Day against the Giants, manager Cito Gaston asked McDonald to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Before Jack’s passing, he had asked his son to dedicate his next home run to him. Knowing that John had only hit 13 long balls over 12 seasons to that point, he asked his son to do it no matter when it happened or how long it took. In his first at-bat back, McDonald sent the second pitch he saw just over the left-field fence and tried to hold back his emotions as he rounded the bases. When he returned to the dugout, he shared the poignant moment with his closest friends on the team as a wave of emotion spread across Rogers Centre.
4. Donaldson’s dash to clinch the ALDS
October 9, 2016
Up 2-0 in the best-of-five series against Texas, Encarnacion and Russell Martin each homered in a three-run first inning. The Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor answered back, also going deep in a back-and-forth battle that would go to extra innings. After Josh Donaldson doubled to lead off the 10th, he sprinted home from second base on an error and ended up scoring the winning run for the Blue Jays, completing the sweep and sending Toronto to the ALCS for the second straight year.
5. Morrow’s 17-strikeout one-hitter
August 8, 2010
When Brandon Morrow headed to the mound against the AL East-leading Rays on an innocuous Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, the right-hander had never before thrown a shutout or a complete game. When he struck out the side in order in the first inning, it was a sign of what would come. Morrow dominated Tampa Bay for nine frames, using 137 pitches to seal the victory while striking out 17 and walking two. Only a single by Evan Longoria with two outs in the final frame stopped him from throwing a no-hitter. Still, Morrow compiled a game score of 100 -- one of only 15 nine-inning game scores of 100 points or better, where nine are no-hitters or perfect games.
6. Estrada keeps the Blue Jays alive
October 11, 2015
In their first postseason series in more than two decades, the Blue Jays went down 2-0 against the Rangers and sent Marco Estrada to the mound in the must-win Game 3. The righty retired the first eight hitters he faced and 16 of the first 18, helping Toronto to a 5-1 win at Globe Life Park to extend the series. Estrada finished with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and striking out four.
7. Bautista’s 50th home run
September 23, 2010
In what would end up as a 1-0 victory for the Blue Jays over the Mariners -- a complete-game loss for Felix Hernandez in a Cy Young Award-winning season -- the lone run scored was an incredibly significant milestone for the franchise and for its star. Bautista launched his 50th home run of the season in the opening frame, hitting the benchmark for the first and only time in Toronto’s history. He eclipsed the previous record for long balls by a Blue Jays slugger in a single season, set by George Bell in 1987 with 47. When Bautista accomplished the feat, he became the 26th player in Major League history to do so. He would go on to hit 54 homers that season.
8. Estrada’s perfect game attempt
June 24, 2015
Estrada took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning for the second time in two starts, becoming the first pitcher since Dave Stieb in 1988 to do so. The right-hander was perfect through 7 1/3 frames against the Rays, when Logan Forsythe reached on an infield single, but Estrada finished 8 2/3 scoreless, allowing two hits, walking none and striking out 10. The game went 12 innings and the hurler took a no-decision, but Toronto came out on top thanks to a solo home run from Chris Colabello.
9. Pearce’s grand slam comeback
July 30, 2017
When Steve Pearce walked off the Angels, he not only completed one of the most dramatic comebacks in franchise history, but he did it with his second walk-off grand slam in four days. The rally back from a six-run deficit was Toronto’s biggest when trailing entering the ninth inning.
“It’s like winning the lottery to just be up in that situation,” said Kevin Pillar, who started the comeback with his 12th homer of the year to bring the Blue Jays to within four. “It’s hard enough to get up there with the bases loaded. To be up there two times within four days with a chance to win the game is unbelievable, and even more so to hit grand slams two times in a week.”
10. Bautista’s 19-inning walk-off
August 10, 2014
With Blue Jays ace Mark Buehrle squaring off against Tigers ace David Price, the Sunday afternoon affair would become the longest matchup in franchise history at six hours and 37 minutes. From the ninth inning through the 19th frame, neither team would score. Chad Jenkins took on the brunt of the work, pitching six scoreless frames to finish it for the Blue Jays. After Toronto loaded the bases in the 19th, Bautista finally ended it with a walk-off single to right field.