Wow, what an opening day, that turned into opening night.
Way too many events transpired in Thursday’s historic 16-inning epic between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians to adequately cram into a single newspaper dispatch.
Here is a summary of the good, the bad - and the just plain ugly - of what transpired over five hours, 14 minutes of playing time.
Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia, who finally brought an end to all the madness with his three-run home run in the top of the 16th inning that provided the Blue Jays with a 7-4 victory, played an overall sound contest.
He made several key blocks of pitches in the dirt with Cleveland runners perched at third base to prevent the Indians from tagging on more runs.
Arencibia also made an excellent throw, from his knees no less, to cut down Indians base-runner Shin-Soo Choo who was attempting to steal second base in the sixth inning.
Toronto’s Colby Rasmus made a great diving catch in the power alley in right-centre in the fifth inning to rob Jack Hannahan of a hit that had extra bases written all over it.
On the other side of the ledger, Rasmus was victimized on a hit by Travis Hafner in the ninth inning that bounded past the centre fielder for an error that allowed the Cleveland player to take second base.
Rasmus was also 0-for-7 at the plate.
The Toronto outfield is supposed to be stronger this season, but it wasn’t evident in this game.
Eric Thames looked rocky in left field and took a curious route on a hard-hit ball struck by Michael Brantley in the four-run Cleveland second that fell in over his head for a double.
Later in the inning, Toronto first baseman Adam Lind made a terrific dig at first base on a rushed throw from third by Brett Lawrie to get Asdrubal Cabrera for the third out.
Things started to heat up in the third inning after Ricky Romero drilled Choo in the small of the back with a pitch.
In the Toronto fourth, after the first two pitches from Cleveland pitcher Justin Masterson came in tight to Kelly Johnson, the Blue Jays leadoff batter, home plate umpire Tim Welke issued warnings to Masterson and both dugouts that he wouldn’t be tolerating any more nonsense.
Things boiled over in the bottom of the 15th after Toronto reliever Luis Perez sailed a pitch near the head of Choo with two out.
Choo dropped his bat, figuring that Perez was throwing at him, and took a couple of steps toward the mound.
The next thing you know, both dugouts had emptied along with the bullpens for some ring-around-the-rosy near the mound. No punches were thrown and order was soon restored.
Toronto’s base-running habits were less than stellar.
Edwin Encarnacion lifted a high fly in the ninth inning that looked like it was heading out of the yard for a home run, and he stood at home plate for several moments admiring his effort.
Trouble was, the gusting wind within Progressive Field knocked the ball down and it struck the wall in left field.
There was no real harm as Encarnacion still wound up with a double and the two runs he scored were pivotal as it knotted the score at 4-4. Still...
Encarnacion’s move was nothing compared the mental miscue committed by Rajai Davis in the 15th inning.
With runners at first and second and none out, the situation called for Davis to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
The Toronto speedster popped the ball down the third base line that Hannahan, the Cleveland third baseman, charged in on.
Rather than sprint off toward first base immediately, Davis instead stood at home plate to watch the outcome, only taking off after the ball landed fair at Hannahan’s feet.
By then the damage was done as the Indians turned an easy double play with Davis the second out at first.
Rather than wind up with runners at second and third and one out at a key moment in the game, the Blue Jays had to make do with a runner at third and two out.
The inning was completely snuffed out when the next batter, Encarnacion, grounded out.
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