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Dome Disaster: The Recent History of Home Opener Defeats

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For many fans, the home opener is the most anticipated game of the season. Whether it’s the team’s first game of the year or not, it’s an exciting day. There’s usually a big pregame ceremony, the players and coaches are introduced down the base line, and it’s a full house no matter how good the team is expected to be. The downside is that tickets usually cost double.

If you cheer for the Blue Jays, it’s also meant disappointment for nearly a decade. You see, the club has lost its home opener in each of the last seven seasons. Since making the switch back to the beautiful blue uniforms and iconic original logo, the Jays have lost their first home game every single year. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see where it’s all gone wrong.

Season Opponent Result Starting Pitcher GM #
2018 NY Yankees L 6 – 1 J.A. Happ 1

The Jays opened the season at home for the first time since 2013, and Giancarlo Stanton’s Yankees debut  spoiled the party. The slugger went 3-for-5, hitting two massive homers and driving in four runs. For the Blue Jays, it was a sign of things to come, punctuated by Josh Donaldson’s “dead arm” making several awful throws to first base. The injury relegated him to DH duties for several games before he finally hit the Disabled List. Happ, failed to make it out of the fifth inning in his second consecutive home opener.

2017 Milwaukee L 4 – 3 J.A. Happ 7
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A packed Dome ahead of the 2017 home opener against Milwaukee. 

This game slogged for an awful three hours and thirty-one minutes, in addition to the half hour opening ceremony. Happ gave up two runs in the first inning, and the Brewers never relinquished the lead. Donaldson, dealing with a hamstring injury, was limited to a late-game pinch-hit appearance, while Troy Tulowitzki drove in all three Jays runs.

2016 Boston L 8 – 7 Marcus Stroman 5

Fresh off their first playoff appearance in over two decades, there was optimism for a return to the post-season, and things seemed to be heading in that direction. Donaldson hit a grand slam in the fourth inning, and Toronto led 7-2 going into the 6th. But Brock Holt responded with a slam of his own, while Drew Storen and Brett Cecil combined to blow it in the late innings. It was a moment of foreshadowing, as the Red Sox overtook Toronto later in the season to win the AL East crown.

2015 Tampa Bay L 2 – 1 R.A. Dickey 7

R.A. Dickey walked 5 batters in his second home opening start, and the Jays offence mustered just one run on two hits, coming from Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis at the bottom of the order.

2014 NY Yankees L 7 – 3 Dustin McGowan 5
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Lined up on the field at the 2014 home opener

This was a cool moment for McGowan, who battled back from multiple arm injuries to make his return to the league as a reliever late in 2013. He “won” the fifth starter spot out of camp even though he wasn’t quite fully stretched out, and lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up four runs. But it was sort of a symbolic start for the former first round pick. This game also marked the MLB debut for Masahiro Tanaka, and the high-point of the night for the Jays came when Melky Cabrera hit a leadoff home run.

2013 Cleveland L 3 – 1 R.A. Dickey 1

This was supposed to be the greatest Blue Jays team ever assembled, following two massive offseason trades. Instead, Toronto fell flat. Dickey walked four, J.P. Arencibia allowed three passed balls, and the only run came on a 3rd inning double play off the bat of Adam Lind. A team ticketed for the World Series wound up finishing last in the division.

2012 Boston L 4 – 2 Henderson Alvarez 4

Henderson Alvarez! What a blast from the past. He actually pitched well, allowing just one run through six innings. But new closer Sergio Santos coughed up the lead in the 9th, allowing three runs and handing Boston the victory.

2011 Minnesota W 13 – 3 Ricky Romero 1

Alas, we come to the last Blue Jays home opener victory. Arencibia clubbed two home runs and drove in five, Lind and Jose Bautista also went deep and Romero spun a gem into the 7th inning. Now retired, he’s the last Blue Jays pitcher to win a home opener.

The team, and it’s fans, will hope Stroman can add his name to that record book on Thursday when he makes his second career Opening Day start against Jordan Zimmermann and the Detroit Tigers.

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