|ESTABLISHED||CHAMPIONSHIPS||A.L. TITLES||DIVISION TITLES|
|– Expansion||– 1992, 1993||– 1992, 1993||– 1985, 89, 1991, 92, 93, 2015|
Name that Expansion American League Team!
The Blue Jays were named in a contest conducted in June and July of 1976. Over 30,000 individual entries were received, suggesting over 4,000 names for the new American League club. From the list of names submitted, specially-appointed panels of judges selected ten names to submit to the Board of Directors. The Directors chose the name “Blue Jays” from that list and announced their decision on August 12th, at which time the team officially became the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club.
A total of 154 people submitted the name “Blue Jays” and a drawing was held to select a grand prize winner from those who submitted the name. Dr. William Mills of Etobicoke, Ontario, won a pair of season tickets for 1977 and an all-expenses paid trip for himself and his family to watch the Blue Jays at spring training in Dunedin, Florida. Nine runners-up also won season tickets.
On March 26, 1976, the American League granted an expansion franchise to a group consisting of Labatt Breweries, Imperial Trust Limited and The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Both Labatt Breweries and Imperial Trust each controlled 45% of the team. The CIBC had the other 10% of the club. Imperial Trust was a holding company set up by the late Howard Webster, who was instrumental in the granting of the franchise in 1976. The Webster family still maintained their share of the ownership until selling their 45% to Labatt in November, 1991. The ownership then consisted of John Labatt Limited, 90% and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 10%.
|In June of 1995 John Labatt Limited was purchased by Interbrew SA, Belgium’s leading brewer. The ownership then consisted of Interbew, 90% and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 10%.||In September of 2000, local ownership returned to the Toronto Blue Jays as Rogers Communications Inc. purchased 80% control of the franchise. John Labatt Limited (Interbrew) maintains a 20% interest while The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce relinquished their stake. In January of 2004 Rogers acquired the remaining 20% of the Club. Rogers now owns 100% of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club|
On March 26, 1976 the American League voted to expand to Toronto, awarding franchise to group consisting of Imperial Trust, Ltd., Labatt’s Breweries, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The directors selected “Blue Jays” from over 4,000 names and 30,000 entries in a “Name the Team” contest in August 1976. Dunedin, Florida was selected at the spring training location.
|Designed by Savage Sloan, Ltd
Unveiled on October 8, 1976
First worn on April 7, 1977
Last worn on September 29, 1996
|Designed by MLB Properties
Unveiled on November 19, 1996
First worn on April 1, 1997
Last worn on September 29, 2002
|Unveiled on February 1, 2000
Last worn on September 28, 2003
|Designed by Brandid
Unveiled on September 2, 2003
First worn on April 5, 2004
Last worn on September 28, 2011
|Unveiled on November 18, 2011
First Worn on April 5, 2012
The following Blue Jays personnel are honoured on the 400 level of the Rogers Centre.
|1 TONY FERNANDEZ||11 GEORGE BELL||12 ROBERTO ALOMAR|
|SS, 3B: 1983–1990, 1993, 1998–1999, 2001||LF: 1981–1990||2B: 1991–1995. Hall of Fame.|
|29 JOE CARTER||37 DAVE STIEB||43 CITO GASTON|
|RF, 1B: 1991–1997||P: 1979–1992, 1998||M: 1989–1997, 2008–2010|
|4603 TOM CHEEK||PAUL BEESTON||PAT GILLICK|
|Broadcaster: 1977–2005. Hall of Fame.||VP: 1976–1989; President: 1989–1997, 2008–2015||GM: 1978–1994|
|25 CARLOS DELGADO||32 ROY HALLADAY
|1B: 1993-2004||P: 1998-2009|
On March 11, 1977 the Blue Jays defeated the New York Mets 3-1 at Dunedin, Florida, in their first spring training game. Just a month later on April 7, 44,649 fans braved snow and freezing temperatures as Major League baseball made a successful debut in Toronto. Doug Ault became an instant hero hitting two home runs in the Blue Jays 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.
On August 9, 1977 the Blue Jays defeated Minnesota 6-2 in front of 23,450 fans, which pushed the home attendance to 1,219,551 and established a new attendance record for a first-year expansion club after only 50 home dates. On October 2 the Blue Jays completed their first year with a 54-107 record with 1,701,052 fans having made their way to Exhibition Stadium to see the team in their inaugural season. On September 23, 1979 the Blue Jays completed their home schedule and announce a expansion attendance record total of 4,695,288 in the first 3 seasons.
The Early Years
On September 26, 1980 Continuing to break all records for expansion teams, the Blue Jays reached the 6 million mark in home attendance. On October 5, Toronto defeated Boston 4-1 to chalk up their 67th win of the season, 8 more victories than ever before.
On July 30, 1982 beer was sold at Exhibition Stadium for the first time, each one cost $1.75. On September 11, Blue Jays set a new club mark for road attendance, surpassing the previous mark of 1,285,409. On October 3, Blue Jays set new club marks for best home (44-37) and road (34-47) records.
In a season split in half by a players’ strike, the 1981 Jays combined the worst start and the strongest finish in the club’s five-year history. Dave Stieb became the Jays’ first regular starter to post a winning record, going 11-10 with an ERA of 3.19.
The Jays became contenders in 1983. The club’s designated hitters – primarily Cliff Johnson and Jorge Orta – hit 34 HRs and 113 RBIs. The Jays’ .277 average led the A.L.
Blue Jays Rising: 1985-1991
After a streak of 19 one-run victories in the first half of the 1984 season, the Jays dropped 25 of 40 one-run games over the rest of the schedule. They finished with 89 wins, finishing in second place behind the Detroit Tigers.
The Jays won the A.L. East on October 5, 1985 when Doyle Alexander beat the Yankees 5-1. The Jays finished with 99 wins and went on to play the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS, losing a tight seven-game series. The Jays’ bullpen had 47 saves and a 35-20 won-lost record, with Henke saving 13 of 15 games. Bell hit 28 Hrs, Barfield hit 27 and Ernie Whitt had 19. Garth Iorg hit .313. Tony Fernandez hit .289.
On October 4, 1985 47,686 see the Blue Jays play New York – a new club attendance mark.
The Jays 10th season saw both Jesse Barfield and George Bell drive in a club record 108 runs. Barfield hit a Jays record 40 homers, while Bell hit 31 dingers and 38 doubles. Tony Fernandez led the club with a .301 average. All three were selected to post-season All-Star teams and Barfield and Fernandez became the first members of the Blue Jays to win Gold Glove awards. Rick Leach hit .309, with ten pinch hits. On July 10, Damaso Garcia became the first player to register 1000 hits in a Blue Jays uniform and on July 28, Jim Clancy became the first pitcher to record 100 wins in a Blue Jays uniform.
In one of Baseball’s most dramatic pennant races, the Jays and the Tigers played seven one-run games over the last ten days of the season. Toronto finished two games back with 96 wins, the second-highest in the majors. The Blue Jays led the A.L. in attendance, and registered the sixth-highest home run total in league history with 215, including a major-league record 10 home run game on September 14.
On June 2, 1988 Blue Jays went on an 11-game win streak. On July 1, Blue Jays set a club record when a Canada Day crowd of 47,828 fans saw the Yankees. Blue Jays final home attendance reached 2,778,429, the most ever for an AL East team and the club led the AL in attendance for first time ever. George Bell was named A.L. MVP.
On September 2, 1990, Dave Stieb pitched the first (and, to date, only) no-hitter in Blue Jays history, defeating the Cleveland Indians 3–0. Previously, on September 24 and 30 1988, Stieb had no-hitters broken up with two outs and two strikes in the top of the ninth inning in two consecutive home starts
The Blue Jays hosted the MLB All Star game for the first time in 1991
The Jays won their second A.L. East crown in 1989, enduring a slow start and a managerial change before putting together a strong second half. The club played its SkyDome opener on June 5, recording a 17-10 mark for the month. The Blue Jays played their final game at Exhibition Stadium on May 28, defeating Chicago 7-5. In the ALCS, the Jays lost to the Oakland A’s in five games.
The Jays acquired Devon White, Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar for the 1991 season. Roberto Alomar led all regulars with a .295 batting average. Juan Guzman set a team record with 10 consecutive victories, and Joe Carter who drove in 108 runs. Tom Henke had 32 saves while Duane Ward had 23. Despite losing to the Twins in the ALCS, the season was a successful one for the organization as the jays became the first team in baseball history to draw 4,000,000 fans. 52,382 fans watched the 62nd All-Star Game in Toronto as the American League defeated the National League 4-2
Back to Back: 1992-1993
The 1992 Jays were a well-balanced team supplemented by the addition of Dave Winfield, Jack Morris, Alfredo Griffin and David Cone. After clinching their second consecutive A.L. East title, the Jays cruised past the Oakland A’s in six games to reach the World Series for the first time.
Toronto’s opponents in baseball’s first international World Series were the Atlanta Braves. After an opening game loss, the Jays won three consecutive games, two of which were the result of dramatic ninth-inning come-backs. Atlanta bounced back for a win in game five, but the Jays made baseball history in game six, winning the Series with a 4-3 victory in 11 innings.
The Blue Jays entered the 1993 season with eleven new faces. John Olerud, Robbie Alomar and Paul Molitor finished 1-2-3 in the batting race and Joe Carter added 33 HRs and 121 RBIs as the Jays captured their third consecutive A.L. East Flag. Dave Stewart won twice as the Jays eased past the White Sox in six games to win the A.L. crown, setting up as meeting with the Phillies in the World Series. The teams split the first two in Toronto before the jays captured two of the next three on the road, including a record-setting 15-14 nail biter in game four.
In game six at Skydome, the Phillies overcame a 5-1 deficit and carried a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth. After Henderson and Molitor reached base, Joe Carter then drove a slider from Mitch Williams into the left field bullpen to give the Jays their second championship. Carter’s blast was only the second Series-ending home run in baseball history.
The 1994 Blue Jays struggled in May and June, and despite better results at the time play was suspended, the Jays finished under .500 for the first time since 1982. Despite the disappointing result, there were numerous highlights. Paul Molitor hit .341. Mike Huff played 80 games in the outfield, batting .304. Veteran minor leaguer Darren Hall recorded 17 saves and Pat Hentgen contributed 13 wins and an ERA of 3.40.
The Post-Glory Years
Despite disappointing Results, 1995 contained its share of highlights. Joe Carter led the club in homers for the fifth straight season. Right fielder Shawn Green set a club rookie record with 50 extra base hits and rookie backstop Sandy Martinez jumped from AA to the major leagues mid-season and led the teams in RBIs in August. Southpaw Al Leiter posted career-highs in Wins, ERA, innings and strikeouts.
The Blue Jays 20th Season was highlighted by Pitcher Pat Hentgen, who became the first member of the club to win the Cy Young Award after posting a 20-10 record and leading the A.L. with 10 complete games and 265.2 innings pitched. Ed Sprague also had a big year with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs, while Joe Carter rebounded from a poor 1995 season to top 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the ninth time in his career. Juan Guzman also returned to form and led the A.L with a 2.93 ERA. Robert Perez led the team with a .327 average, while given a chance to play every day, and the result was an 18-win improvement over 1995.
Free agent acquisition Roger Clemens was the Blue Jays’ top story in 1997. His 21 victories tied a club record and his 292 strikeouts set a new one. Combined with a 2.05 ERA, Clemens won the unofficial A.L. pitchers’ Triple Crown and won the Cy Young Award for the fourth time in his career. Joe Carter passed George Bell as the club’s all time home run leader while Carlos Delgado and Jose Cruz Jr. emerged a the club’s new offensive stars.
It was a tale of two seasons in 1998 for Toronto. The team struggled throughout the first half before exploding into contention in August. Deals at the deadline opened up the outfield for promising youngsters Shannon Stewart, Shawn Green and Jose Cruz and also steadied the infield by opening up third base for veteran Tony Fernandez. Fernandez led the team with a .321 average, and Green joined the exclusive 30/30 club with 35 homers and 35 steals. Carlos Delgado led the Jays with 115 RBI, and Jose Canseco clubbed a team-high 46 homers. Roger Clemens earned his fifth Cy Young Award with a 20-6 record and also topped 3,000 strikeouts during the season.
The Blue Jays finished with an 84-78 record, which was third in the AL East. The winning season was the 13th in franchise history, and Toronto posted back-to-back winning records for the first time since 1992-93.
Before the 1999 season, the Blue Jays traded Clemens to the Yankees for starting pitcher David Wells, second baseman Homer Bush and relief pitcher Graeme Lloyd. They also fired manager Tim Johnson during spring training after he lied about several things (including killing people in the Vietnam War) in order to motivate his players. The Blue Jays had initially been willing to stand by Johnson. A blizzard of questions about his credibility during spring training, however, led Ash to fire him less than a month before opening day. Johnson was replaced with Jim Fregosi, who managed the Phillies when they lost to the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. The offense picked up somewhat in 1999, but the pitching suffered without Clemens, as the Blue Jays finished at 84–78, in third place. After the 1999 season, the Blue Jays’ original mascot for 20 years, BJ Birdy, was replaced by a duo named Ace & Diamond.
On November 8, 1999, Toronto traded star outfielder Shawn Green to the Los Angeles Dodgers for left-handed relief pitcher Pedro Borbón and right-fielder Raúl Mondesí. Green had told the Jays that he would not be re-signing when his contract was up at the end of the year (he wished to play closer to his home in Southern California).
2000 proved to be a similar season, as the Jays had an 83–79 record, well out of the wild card race but only a slim 4½ games back of the three-time defending World Series Champion Yankees in the AL East, the first time since 1993 they had contended for the division. Carlos Delgado had a stellar year, hitting .344 with 41 home runs, 57 doubles, 137 RBI, 123 walks and 115 runs. In addition, six other players hit 20 or more home runs, an outstanding feat. José Cruz Jr., Raúl Mondesí, Tony Batista, Darrin Fletcher, Shannon Stewart, and Brad Fullmer all contributed to the powerful heart of the lineup.
On September 1, 2000, Rogers Communications Inc. announced that it had purchased 80% of the baseball club for $168 million with Interbrew (now InBev) maintaining 20% interest and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce relinquishing its 10% share. Rogers would acquire the remaining 20% owned by Interbrew in January 2004 for $45 million, and currently owns 100% of the team.
Buck Martinez, a former catcher and broadcast announcer for the Blue Jays, took over as manager before the 2001 season. The Blue Jays were back under .500 for 2001, finishing at 80–82, with mediocre pitching and hitting. Delgado led the team again with 39 home runs and 102 RBI. After the 2001 season ended, the Blue Jays fired Gord Ash, ending a seven-year tenure as general manager.
J.P. Ricciardi, then director of player development under Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, was named the Blue Jays’ General Manager and was expected to slash the payroll immediately, in order to stem the tide of red ink. During the off-season, the team traded or let go several popular players, including Alex Gonzalez, Paul Quantrill, Brad Fullmer and closer Billy Koch to let talented youngsters such as Eric Hinske and Felipe López get a chance to develop into major leaguers.
The Ricciardi Era: 2002-2009
The Blue Jays started the 2002 season with slow progress in performance. Buck Martinez was fired about a third of the way through the season, with a 20–33 record. He was replaced by third base coach Carlos Tosca, an experienced minor league manager. They went 58–51 under Tosca to finish the season 78–84. Roy Halladay was relied on as the team’s ace and rose to the challenge of being the team’s top pitcher, finishing the season with a 19–7 record and 2.93 ERA. The hitters were led once again by Carlos Delgado. Promising young players were assigned to key roles; starting third baseman Eric Hinske won the Rookie of the Year Award at the season’s conclusion, and 23-year-old centre fielder Vernon Wells had his first 100 RBI season.
The 2003 season was a surprise to both team management and baseball analysts. After a poor April, the team had its most successful month ever in May. Carlos Delgado led the majors in RBI, followed closely by Wells. Despite their hitting successes, poor pitching continued to plague the team. Halladay was an exception, winning his first Cy Young Award, going 22–7, with a 3.25 ERA. In July, Shannon Stewart was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty, another outfielder with a much lower batting average than Stewart’s. Although the Jays finished in third place in their division, Delgado was second in the voting for the American League MVP Award. In the off-season, Kielty was traded to the Oakland Athletics for starter Ted Lilly.
The 2004 season was a disappointing year for the Blue Jays right from the beginning. They started the season 0–8 at SkyDome and never started a lengthy winning streak. Much of that was due to injuries to All-Stars Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay among others. Although the additions of starting pitchers Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista and reliever Justin Speier were relatively successful, veteran Pat Hentgen faltered throughout the season and retired on July 24. Rookies and minor league callups David Bush, Jason Frasor, Josh Towers and others filled the void in the rotation and the bullpen; however, inconsistent performances were evident. With the team struggling in last place and mired in a five-game losing streak, manager Carlos Tosca was fired on August 8, 2004, and was replaced by first base coach John Gibbons. Long-time first baseman Carlos Delgado became a free agent in the off-season. Nevertheless, prospects Russ Adams, Gabe Gross, and Alex Ríos provided excitement for the fans. Rookie pitchers David Bush, Gustavo Chacín and Jason Frasor also showed promise for the club’s future. The Blue Jays’ lone MLB All-Star Game representative was Lilly.
The Blue Jays had a good start to the 2005 season. They led the AL East from early to mid-April and held their record around .500 until late August. The Jays were hit with the injury bug when third baseman Corey Koskie broke his finger, taking him out of the lineup, but the club was pleasantly surprised with the performance of rookie call-up Aaron Hill in his stead. On July 8, just prior to the All-Star break, Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay was struck on the shin by a line drive, resulting in a fractured leg. Though Halladay’s injury was hoped to be minor, the recovery process was met with constant delays, and eventually, he was out for the rest of the season. Prior to his injury, the Blue Jays were in serious wild card contention, but soon fell out of the playoff race. The team received glimpses of the future from September call-ups Guillermo Quiróz, John-Ford Griffin, and Shaun Marcum. Marcum made himself noteworthy by posting an ERA of 0.00 over 5 relief appearances and 8 innings in September. Josh Towers also stepped up, showing largely unseen potential by going 7–5 with a 2.91 ERA in the second half of the season.
In 2006, the team experienced its most successful season in years. On July 2, Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, B. J. Ryan, and Alex Ríos were picked to represent the Blue Jays at the All-Star Game. It was the largest number of Blue Jay All-Stars selected for the game since 1993. The team played well in the critical month of September, going 18–10. This, combined with the slumping of the Boston Red Sox, enabled the Blue Jays to take sole possession of second place in the American League East by the end of the season. This marked the first time that the Jays had finished above third place in their division since their World Championship season of 1993, and with the most wins since the 1998 season. On December 18, the Blue Jays announced that they had re-signed centre fielder Wells to a seven-year contract worth $126 million, which came into effect after the 2007 season.
The 2007 season was blighted by persistent injuries, with 12 Blue Jays landing on the disabled list. The most serious injury was that of B. J. Ryan, who was out for the entire season having had Tommy John surgery. Prior to the season, the team signed starting pitchers John Thomson, Tomo Ohka, and Víctor Zambrano; each of them was released before the end of the season. However, young starters Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan had breakout years, with 12 wins each. On June 24, McGowan pitched a complete game one-hitter. On June 28, Frank Thomas became the 21st major league player to hit 500 career home runs. Aaron Hill also had a breakout year, setting a team record for second basemen with 47 doubles.
The Blue Jays’ 2008 season featured a strong pitching staff, which led the major leagues with a 3.49 ERA. For much of the season, however, the team struggled to hit home runs and drive in runs. On May 24, starter Jesse Litsch set a team record, with 38 consecutive innings without giving up a walk. On June 20, following a five-game losing streak and with the Jays in last place in the AL East, management fired John Gibbons and several members of his coaching staff, and re-hired Cito Gaston. Meanwhile, Alex Ríos had 32 stolen bases, making him the first Blue Jay with 30 since 2001. On September 5, Roy Halladay earned his 129th career win, moving him into second spot on Toronto’s all-time wins list. Halladay also came second in the voting for the Cy Young Award, after posting a 20–11 record and 2.78 ERA. From August 30 to September 9, the team had a 10-game winning streak.
The 2009 season saw the addition of two new patches on the Blue Jays’ uniforms: on the right arm, a bright red maple leaf (part of the Canadian flag), and on the left arm, a small black band with “TED” written on it, in reference to team owner Ted Rogers, who died in the off-season.
On opening day at the Rogers Centre, the Jays, led by Roy Halladay, beat the Detroit Tigers 12–5. On June 9, with the 20th pick in the MLB draft, the Jays selected RHP Chad Jenkins, a power pitcher that has drawn comparisons to David Wells and Gustavo Chacín. Aaron Hill and Roy Halladay both had excellent years and represented the Blue Jays at the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis. In mid-August, J. P. Ricciardi allowed the Chicago White Sox to claim Alex Ríos off waivers. Despite a hot start, the Jays quickly fell, including a 9-game losing streak, after starting with a 27–14 record. With two games remaining in what was a disappointing season, Ricciardi was fired on October 3. He was replaced by assistant general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Despite a 75-win season, the Jays saw the strong return of Aaron Hill, who won the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award and the Silver Slugger for second base. Adam Lind, who also had a strong season, earned the Silver Slugger for designated hitter. Shortstop Marco Scutaro also broke out for career highs in batting average (.282), slugging percentage (.379), at bats (574), and total bases (235).
2010–present: The Alex Anthopoulos era
2010: In the off-season, the Jays’ ace Roy Halladay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor; Taylor was immediately traded to the Oakland Athletics for Brett Wallace. The team’s significant free agent signings were that of catcher John Buck and shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
The 2010 season was a surprising 10-win improvement over the last season. It was a career year for Jose Bautista, who hit 54 home runs, breaking George Bell’s franchise record. In doing so, he became the 26th player to reach 50 home runs and the first since Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder achieved the feat in 2007. The Blue Jays also set a franchise record for the most home runs in a single season as they hit 257, 13 more than their previous record of 244 set by the 2000 Blue Jays. The Blue Jays tied the 1996 Baltimore Orioles for the third most home runs by a team in a single season. Seven players (Jose Bautista, Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay, John Buck, and Edwin Encarnacion) hit 20 home runs or more throughout the season, tying an MLB record previously set by four teams, including the 2000 Blue Jays.
2011: Led by new manager John Farrell, the Blue Jays’ 2011 season was up-and-down for the most part, as the team finished with a .500 record. After signing a five-year $64 million contract extension, Jose Bautista followed up his record setting 2010 season with an arguably better season. He finished with a Major League-leading 43 home runs, along with 103 RBI, 132 walks, and a .302 average. Rookie J. P. Arencibia also had a successful year, setting a Blue Jays single-season record with 23 home runs by a catcher. In August, third base prospect Brett Lawrie made his Major League debut and hit .293 with 9 home runs, 4 triples, and 25 RBI, in just 43 games.
Starting pitcher and ace Ricky Romero had a breakout year, leading the team with 15 wins and a 2.92 ERA. He also became an All-Star for the first time in his career. The other starting pitchers were inconsistent throughout the season. Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, both acquired in the off-season, shared the closer role. They both struggled through the first half of the season, though Francisco improved in the last two months of the season, and had six saves in September.
On July 31, the Blue Jays retired their first number, Roberto Alomar’s #12.
2012: The 2012 season was an injury-plagued year for the Blue Jays, having used 31 total pitchers, which set a franchise record. In June, three starting pitchers (Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison) were lost to injury in a span of four days, two of whom required Tommy John surgery. In the second half of the season, some key players in Toronto’s lineup, including All-Star Jose Bautista, missed a significant amount of playing time due to injury, sending the team into a freefall and culminating in a 73–89 record. Despite the underachievements of Ricky Romero and Adam Lind, Casey Janssen established himself as a reliable closer (22 SV, 2.52 ERA) and Edwin Encarnacion developed into one of the league’s best power hitters (.280 AVG, 42 HR, 110 RBI).
The team opened on the road in Cleveland, where they beat the Indians 7–4 in 16 full innings, setting a new record for the longest opening-day game in major league history. The previous record of 15 innings had been set by the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics on April 13, 1926, and tied by the Detroit Tigers and the Indians on April 19, 1960.
On April 20, the Jays turned a triple play against the Kansas City Royals in a 4–3 win. It was the first triple play they turned since September 21, 1979.
2013: During the off-season the Blue Jays announced multiple blockbuster trades and free agent signings. One such trade acquired Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson among others from the Miami Marlins and another was with the Mets for R.A. Dickey. Melky Cabrera was signed as a free agent around the same time.
Despite fans and analysts high expectations, the 2013 team did not live up to the pre-season predictions. Most of the regulars battled injury (Reyes broke his ankle during a steal attempt 10 games into the season and a benign tumor was removed from Cabrera’s spine after the season ended) and generally underperformed. One of the few bright spots was the promotion of fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki to replace Reyes. The Blue Jays also tied a franchise record with an eleven-game winning streak from June 11-23. Edwin Encarnacion finished the season on the DL with a wrist injury but had great numbers (.272 AVG, 36 HR and 104 RBI) to follow up his break out 2012 season.
2014: The Blue Jays started the year, like most years in the past 10, in mediocre fashion, ending the month of April with a record of 12 wins and 15 losses, 3.5 games behind the Eastern division leaders. The month of May was a different story; they won 21 games and lost 9, taking over sole possession of the division lead on May 22. The month was memorable for a 9-game winning streak which included series sweeps over the Boston Red Sox (away), the Oakland A’s (at home) and the Tampa Bay Rays (at home). Edwin Encarnacion hit 16 home runs during the month, tying an American League record for homers in May, set by Mickey Mantle in 1956. Between May 15 and June 6, the Blue Jays won 18 out of 21 to climb into their largest division lead, at any point of the season, since 1993. However, from June 7 to June 30 the Jays won only 7 more games versus 15 losses. As of June 30, they were just 6 games above .500, but still held onto a 1.5 game lead in their division.
On July 26, the Blue Jays ended a streak of 17 consecutive losses in games against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. On August 10, the Blue Jays played the longest game in franchise history in terms of both time and innings, defeating the Detroit Tigers 6–5 after 19 innings. After a poor August, Toronto opened September with its first series win in Tampa Bay since April 6–8, 2007. They would go on to complete the sweep, their first at Tropicana Field. Top prospect Daniel Norris made his MLB debut on September 5, striking out David Ortiz in his half of an inning.
On September 23, the Blue Jays were officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Kansas City Royals clinched a playoff spot on September 26, making the Blue Jays the owners of the longest current MLB playoff drought.
2015: During the off-season, the Jays signed Toronto-born catcher Russell Martin through free agency. The Jays acquired Marco Estrada, Devon Travis, All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, and Michael Saunders in trades. The Jays claimed Justin Smoak, Andy Dirks, and Chris Colabello off waivers. However, Dirks, along with John Mayberry, Jr., were eventually non–tendered; the Jays later signed Dirks to a minor league contract. Melky Cabrera and Brandon Morrow left through free agency and Juan Francisco was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox.
The Jays later traded José Reyes and pitching prospects Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, and Jesus Tinoco to the Colorado Rockies for All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Two days later, they acquired All-Star pitcher David Price from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitching prospects Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt.
The Jays had two 11-game winning streaks during this season. On September 25, the Blue Jays clinched a playoff berth, ending the longest active playoff drought in North American professional sports. They would later claim the AL East division title on September 30, after defeating the Baltimore Orioles 15–2 in the first game of a doubleheader.