It was dubbed as David Price Day in Toronto on Monday despite the Civic Holiday long weekend and it lived up to expectation with a sell out crowd, several ovations, and a playoff like atmosphere inside Rogers Centre.
Led by 11 strikeouts and a strong eight inning outing from newly acquired left handed ace David Price, the Toronto Blue Jays downed the Minnesota Twins 5-1 to move the Jays into a tie with their counterparts for the second American League wild card spot.
Price showed all day just why the Jays were willing to pay a hefty price last week to bring him North of the boarder. After giving up a second inning home run to Torii Hunter, he gave up just three more hits the rest of the game while retiring the final 15 batters that he faced.
The crowd of 45,766 applauded his every strike and booed every close call given as a ball by the umpire. His 11 strikeouts tied a Blue Jays franchise record for a pitcher making his club debut.
Ryan Goins tied the game up at ones in the bottom half of the second inning when he replied with a solo shot of his own off Twins starter Ervin Santana.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the day came in the fourth inning when Price showed his true quality and cemented what all the hype surrounding his move was really about. After giving up a lead off double and walking the next two batters to load the bases with zero outs, Price managed to get Eddie Rosario to pop out before striking out a couple to get out of the tough jam.
At the heart of the best offence in Major League Baseball is also arguably the best third baseman in Josh Donaldson who is enjoying an impressive year where he is poised to put up career best numbers. Donaldson belted a two run shot in the fifth, for his 27th homer of the season and two shy of his career high, to put the Jays ahead 3-1.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, another newly acquired Jay Troy Tulowitzki doubled to get himself into scoring position. Edwin Encarnacion followed that up with an RBI single before heading to second on the throw home. Justin Smoak then singled in Encarnacion to make it a 5-1 ball game.
Even for a holiday, as history shows, it is unusual for the Jays to sell out a game at the start of August. Yet with the attraction of Price, it had thousands of fans lining up at the gates hours before game time, some as early as 9:00 AM.
Rogers Centre exploded into euphoria when Price threw his first pitch of the game for a 92 mph strike to batter Brian Dozier. Price struck out the first two batters he faced.
Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who was acquired in the Tulowitzki deal, came into the ninth and retired the three batters he faced to close out the game for Toronto.
Paul Molitor, the manager of the Twins and a member of the 1993 Blue Jays team that won the World Series was asked about the atmosphere afterwards and said: “I've seen that atmosphere here before.”