Jays West Coast memories to forget
* There have been good trips and bad trips to the coast. This one did not have the best start ... four runs in four losses in Oakland and now it's on to the Big A in Anaheim. ... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott Going oh-for-Oakland is not the way to start a coast trip.
As the Blue Jays head south to play the Los Angeles Angels the question is how will this trip be remembered next Sunday night after the final pitch is thrown at Tropicana Field?
Worst ever that began on the coast? A trip with a bad start? For some reason plenty happens on the coast ... a 12-pack of memories:
12. Oakland, 1986. 2B Damaso Garcia purged the evil spirits from his uniform after a bad trip by burning it.
11. Anaheim, 1985. Jimmy Key beat the Angels in Anaheim in snapping a string of 614 games between wins by a lefty starter.
10. John Cerutti, 1986 Cerutti registered a save in Anahiem July 17 as he took over for Mark Eichhorn with one out. He retired Rob Wilfong on a grounder, hit Jerry Narron and got Jack Howell to ground out in an 8-5 win. Then, he flew east for the birth of his child and returned to the coast to start against the Seattle Mariners and pitched a complete-game 8-3 win. Not a bad trip: first major league save, son and first complete-game win.
9. Seattle, 1984 Jays entered the ninth at Kingdome trailing 3-1. Manager Bobby Cox and coaches Cito Gaston and Jimy Williams had been ejected, yet the Jays set a record for most runs (11) and hits (11) in one inning under coach Billy Smith.
8. Innovation station, Seattle, 1988 Infielder Nelson Liriano was sent to Syracuse. But then Manny Lee and Juan Beniquez were injured, forcing manager Jimy Williams to play Kelly Gruber at third and Cecil Fielder at second. Depending upon whether the hitter batted left or right or a double-play situation, Williams would flip-flop the pair, with Gruber moving to the most likely spot the ball would be hit.
The next night he did the same with a Pat Borders-Gruber quinella. The first night, Gruber switched positions 15 times. The second night, 10 more.
7. 1984, Anaheim. On the coast, the Jays receive advice. Reggie Jackson blooped a ball down the right-field line at Anaheim and slowed down heading into first. When he saw outfielder Barfield slow down, waiting for the ball, Jackson accelerated and baseball’s senior citizen easily beat Barfield’s throw into second.
The next day during batting practice Jackson admonished Barfield in front of his teammates for not hustling. For Barfield, it was difficult to decide which was worse, being chewed out by manager Cox or Jackson.
6. Anaheim, 1989 The 629-day streak of not trading someone on the major-league roster (the current Jays are trying to reach 629 hours) came to an end on a Sunday morn at the Doubletree Hotel in Anaheim. Four days before Jesse Barfield was informed he would platoon in right and he awoke to discover he’d been dealt to the Yankees for lefty Al Leiter, who won 24 games with the Jays, earned two World Series rings and won Game 1 of the 1993 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
5. Coast trip plus 1997 The Jays dropped 10 of 12 starting in Oakland (walk-off wins against Dan Pleasac and Kelvim Escobar), losing three of four in Seattle, two in Boston and three of four at Yankee Stadium. They were only outscored 44-39 and besides late losses in Seattle, had three walk-off losses in four games in Boston and New York (against Escobar, Casey Janssen and Carlos Almanzar).
4. April, 1989. The Jays’ bullpen was tagged with four losses as they dropped six of seven games making stops at Seattle, Anaheim and Oakland: two by Tom Henke, and one each by Duane Ward and David Wells. All but the Wells loss were in walk-off fashion for the Jays, who headed to the coast 1 1/5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles and returned 4 1/2 back.
3. Seattle, 1985 The Mariners’ Phil Bradley, trying to score on a Gorman Thomas single to right, cranked catcher Buck Martinez, who was blocking the plate. Martinez held onto the ball, Thomas went to second on the throw and tried for third when he saw Martinez down. Martinez shot putted the ball into foul territory. George Bell picked up the ball, threw home and Martinez made the tag as Thomas danced around the injured catcher. Your basic 9-2-7-2 double play. The Jays went with Jeff Hearron and Steve Nicosia the rest of the way, but catching was mostly a one-man operation (Ernie Whitt).
2. Anaheim, 1985. The final day before the all-star game, with two men out, George Bell leapt into the crowd in left to grab a drive by California’s Brian Downing. Except a fan pulled the ball out of Bell’s glove. Instead, of being the third out of the game, it was a two-run homer.
1. Anaheim, 1993. Robbie Alomar hit two home runs off Angel starter Julio Valera in a 7-6 win, but Alomar was not the post-game talking point. There was a bullpen-clearing brawl following Tim Salmon’s two-run home run in the sixth that resulted in the ejection of five players delaying the game 18 minutes.
Valera hit Ed Sprague with a pitch in the third, grazed Alomar and threw a pitch over Joe Carter’s head in the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, Pat Hentgen plunked Curtis in the back with his first pitch. Tim Salmon hit the next pitch for a two-run homer that cutting the Jays lead to 5-3.
There was chirping around third. Curtis left the dugout and began running toward Sprague, benches emptied as Damion Easley, Stan Javier and Curtis of the Angels were ejected along with Darnell Coles who took a swing at a fan and Sprague were kicked out. Fans were throwing promotional baseballs given out before the game onto the field.