Righting the ship

These days you can’t go far without hearing Blue Jays fans voicing their displeasure surrounding the club’s dismal play. Seven losses in a row will do that. Especially considering Toronto was expected to make a postseason push this season. BUT, despite their current 13-19 record and 0-7 start to May, the Blue Jays HAVE regrouped from worse. And ‘The 500 Level’ chooses to be optimistic today and remind fans what is still possible …

The 1989 season couldn’t have started worse for the Blue Jays, who wereGaston expected by many to be front-runners in the American League East. They were anything but in April though, losing a club record 16 games during the opening month. Finally, as the club fell to 12-24, the men in charge (Pat Gillick & Paul Beeston) decided to fire manager Jimy Williams on May 15 and replace him — at least, temporarily — with hitting coach Cito Gaston.

With Gaston at the helm, the club immediately responded by winning six of their next nine games. On May 31, Gaston officially accepted an offer to remain manager for the rest of the season. Following the announcement (and subsequently the final game at Exhibition Stadium), the Blue Jays earned an emotional three-game sweep of the Red Sox at FenWay Park — highlighted by the largest comeback (10 runs) in franchise history. This was indeed fitting, as when Toronto returned home to open the brand new SkyDome, they would embark on the biggest season turn-around in franchise history as well.

Though it took until August 15 to get above .500, by September 1 the Blue Jays had overtaken the Orioles for the AL East lead with a record of 73-62. It came down to the wire, as Baltimore visited Toronto for the final series of the season. But with their second one-run victory in as many days, Toronto claimed its first American League East title since 1985, officially punching their ticket to the postseason.

So, you never know …

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