TORONTO -- When the Blue Jays were at their best over the past decade, Rogers Centre was a launching pad.
Since Opening Day 2010, the Blue Jays have hit 2,142 home runs, but 10 stand out from the rest. If you’ve watched an inning of Toronto baseball over the past 10 years, you know exactly how this list starts.
1. The Bat Flip
Oct. 14, 2015 vs. Rangers
Those three little words that bring a smile to the face of any Blue Jays fan: The Bat Flip. A moment greater than any walk-off from the past decade in Toronto, Bautista’s three-run blast in the seventh inning off Sam Dyson broke a 3-3 tie in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Rangers. It’s a home run worthy of a statue -- and the “remember when…” moment of the decade.
2. Encarnación calls game
Oct. 4, 2016 vs. Orioles
If it weren’t for The Bat Flip, the defining image of this decade of Blue Jays baseball might just be Encarnación, standing on home plate with both arms straight up in the air after walking off Ubaldo Jimenez and the Orioles in the bottom of the 11th in the AL Wild Card Game.
3. John McDonald hits one for dad
June 20, 2010 vs. the Giants
A two-run homer in a 9-3 game has never meant more. McDonald, one of the club’s all-time fan favorites, had been away from the team as he mourned the death of his father, Jack. With the Blue Jays down big, the light-hitting McDonald entered the game in the top of the ninth as a defensive replacement and, in the bottom half of the frame, snuck one over the left-field wall in his first plate appearance since returning to the team. That Sunday, June 20, was Father’s Day.
4. Bautista launches No. 50
Sept. 23, 2010 vs. Mariners
In 2008, the Blue Jays traded a Minor League catcher for someone named José Bautista. Just over two years later, that same guy took eventual 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez deep for his 50th home run in a 54-homer season, smashing George Bell’s franchise record of 47, set in 1987. The Blue Jays were fighting an uphill battle in a traditionally strong AL East race that season, but they suddenly had one of baseball’s most feared power hitters.
5. More playoff heroics from Encarnación
Oct. 14, 2015 vs. Rangers
This game will always be remembered for The Bat Flip, but that stage never would have been set if it weren’t for this Encarnación blast against Cole Hamels in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was a classic Encarnación homer, too, with his body uncoiling in the blink of an eye to create tremendous bat speed and a no-doubter.
6. Edwin sets the stage for The Mad Dash
Oct. 9, 2016 vs. Rangers
The award for best supporting actor goes to Encarnación after another one of his biggest home runs was eventually overshadowed. This time, the memory that lives on is Donaldson’s mad dash around third base before sliding into home for a walk-off win in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rangers.
7. Steve Pearce’s grand week
July 27, 2017 vs. Athletics
July 30, 2017 vs. Angels
Pearce had a stretch to remember back in July 2017. On the Thursday of that week, Pearce launched a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the A’s, 8-4. He was back at it on Sunday, launching his second walk-off grand slam in four days, this one to beat the Angels, 11-10.
8. Mr. 300
Aug. 12, 2016 vs. Astros
Encarnación’s milestones deserve some shine on this list, and No. 300 fits the bill. This line-drive shot to left field came in the midst of his 42-homer, 127-RBI season -- both career highs for the slugger. Honorary mention goes to his April 28, 2012 grand slam against the Mariners, when he rounded first base too quickly and raised his right arm to steady himself. That day, “The Parrot” was born.
9. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. goes deep (and deeper)
May 14, 2019 vs. Giants
Guerrero’s first career home run didn’t come as quickly as most expected, but he made May 14 count in San Francisco. Vladdy’s first long ball travelled 438 feet, and he followed it up with a 451-foot blast in the sixth inning. Add in a single with an identical exit velocity to his first homer (111.3 mph), and Guerrero put on a Statcast clinic.
10. Bonjour, Vladdy
Mar. 27, 2018 in Montreal
The biggest moment of the 2018 season might have come before it even started. This was back when Guerrero was still a mystery to most Blue Jays fans, a much-hyped teenage saviour who was still, we thought, a few years away. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game, Guerrero gave them a taste of the future.