When the thousands of fans who had packed Maple Leaf Square on Monday night woke up from their nightmare on Tuesday, the baseball season had finally started in Toronto just two city blocks away at the Rogers Centre.
The night before, the city witnessed their tormented hockey team suffer a heartbreaking and almost unimaginable exit from the playoffs.
Up 4-1 in the third period in Game 7 of their opening round series, the iconic Original Six franchise that hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967 somehow surrendered three goals in the final 11 minutes before falling in overtime.
And thus it was now officially baseball time in Toronto.
The horde of potential reborn Blue Jays fans were greeted on Opening Day Redux by their team sitting dead last in the AL East, nine games under .500 and facing the defending champions the San Francisco Giants.
Yet, the Jays embraced a clean-slate approach to their revised opener and did what they were expected to be doing since the real season opening back on April 2.
They jumped all over Barry Zito in the opening inning for an instant 6-0 lead, if only the Leafs had scored six goals in the opening period against the Boston Bruins the night before they might still be alive and overshadowing the Blue Jays’ struggles.
The Jays’ false start to the season all started with R.A. Dickey on the mound against the Cleveland Indians 43 days prior.
Dickey was now given a chance to spark the resurgence in Toronto and had already inherited a lofty lead to start the game.
However in Toronto, great leads come with great responsibility as there was almost a sinking feeling that the Blue Birds would somehow replicate the Blue Leafs’ late meltdown to the tune of the same blues.
Zito gave those concerns some life by smoothing things out over the next four innings, while his team scrounged together a pair of runs.
Toronto found new life in the sixth when former Giant Melky Cabrera initiated a handy two-out rally with his third hit of the game, he scored their seventh run on Edwin Encarnación’s double before the Jays scored two more in the dig to make it 9-2.
The next inning, Cabrera knocked in Toronto’s tenth and final run on his fourth hit of the night.
Brandon Belt’s RBI double in the eighth made it 10-3, with the Blue Jays seemingly home and hosed, how could the Giants possibly pull this one out?
And then the World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval smacked a three-run home run in the top of the ninth with two outs.
As it turned out, those six runs in the opening inning weren’t enough to win, but Dickey, Cabrera and the rest of the Jays found a way to triumph in their makeshift season opener.
Back in reality, they’re still nine games back with 122 to play.
15 Mayo 2013