Blue Jays playoffs suspended as Aaron Judge hits historic outburst


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Champagne and Budweiser were on ice at Rogers Center on Wednesday night and the Blue Jays were ready to celebrate.

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The game plan was early and often, with goals yet to be achieved before the end of the 2022 season of such high hopes.

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Instead, history and one of the best home hitters in baseball’s modern era got in the way, keeping party plans fresh for at least another day.

Grand Judge Aaron and his relentless drive for baseball immortality halted the Jays’ pursuit in what will ultimately be remembered as a special night at the Downtown Dome.

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The New York Yankees superstar threw a line 394 feet over the wall into left field in the seventh inning, propelling his team to an 8-3 victory while cementing a place in Yankees lore.

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This season’s home run number 61 of prolific power came off Jays southpaw Tim Mayza in the seventh inning of what the Jays hoped would be a night ending with a playoff berth.

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And it was a monster blast at that, a two-run shot that went off the judge’s bat at 117 miles an hour and tying the American League record of 61 homers set by former Yankee Roger Maris he 61 years ago.

The memorable outburst ended a seven-game drought for Judge and added to a memorable visit to Toronto for the Yankees, who clinched the American League East title the night before.

The Jays, who entered their 156th game with a magic number of two to clinch a playoff berth, can still get one on Thursday’s bye. If the Baltimore Orioles lose to the Red Sox at Fenway Park — after falling 3-1 in Boston on Wednesday — the Jays will claim one of three wildcard AL tickets.

Back to Wednesday’s festivities – good for the visitors, not so much for the home nine. Early on, the Jay was stopped by another Yankee great as starter Gerrit Cole threw five perfect innings before Danny Jansen rocked a first homer in the sixth to end that offer.

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When the Jays conceded two more in the inning, it was suddenly a 3-3 game and the party-ready crowd of 37,008 at Rogers Center erupted in anticipation for more.

Instead, the stage was set and the moment was finally at hand for Judge, who had been walked around several times in the three-game series. The soft swinging slugger unleashed one of his best and delivered a blast for the ages.

The ball rushed out of the park, crashing into the wall above the Jays’ bullpen, just out of the reach of fans clamoring for a potentially lucrative piece of history.

Zooming in on the big picture of the Jays’ postseason chase, they’re getting close enough now to get a taste of it. Task number one is getting in, which could happen on Thursday’s bye if the Red Sox help once more.

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But one of the main objectives is to get the first seed, which will take place next Friday at the opener of a best-of-three series at the Rogers Centre.

Whenever the cause of celebration officially arrives, the Jays will be ready to bask in the recognition of an accomplishment in the most grueling season in North American professional sports.

« That’s the best part of baseball – celebrating what you’ve accomplished, » Jays manager John Schneider said before the boozy night was suspended. “You never want to take anything for granted in this game. Every point you hit was a goal, you should definitely celebrate that.

“We play every day and it’s difficult. Guys playing 162 appreciate you being one of the few teams to stand after that mark. And that’s how it’s always been. I appreciate that. It’s such a long season that you have to take a step back and appreciate where you are.

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They’ve seen enough of the Yankees celebrations the past two nights. Now they are ready for some of their own.


Jansen’s homer was his 14th, a career high surpassing the 13 he hit in 2019… With the loss, the Jays lost two of three to the Yanks, their first loss in the past nine series… While head to clinch, will the streaky Jays be considered long live shots to win the World Series? Current prices at Bodog have them listed as the seventh pick 15-1. The Los Angeles Dodgers remain the heavy favorite 3-1… With 87 wins and six games to play, the Jays will need to go 4-2 to match their total of 91 wins from last season.

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