“As long as you still have outs, you still have a chance.”
While that’s true of any baseball game, it was extremely prevalent for the Toronto Blue Jays on June 4th 1989.
For this week’s Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the biggest comeback in Blue Jays franchise history; a 13-11 win over the Boson Red Sox at Fenway Park.
That day, the Blue Jays managed to erase a 10-0 deficit against the Red Sox and staged an unprecedented comeback beginning in the 7th inning. All you need to do is look at the boxscore to see how crazy of a game it was.
Overall, it was not a kind game to pitchers as nine of the ten pitchers to appear in the game were touched up for at least one earned run. Only David Wells managed to escape with his ERA not headed skywards.
The Blue Jays opted to start rookie Alex Sanchez at Fenway Park, and the poor kid only managed to get one out and didn’t even make it out of the first inning after giving up five runs.
Sanchez only ever made one more appearance that season and was never to be seen in MLB ever again. The starter for the Red Sox was Mike Smithson, who shut out the Blue Jays through six innings, but had to leave the game with a foot blister.
With a 10-0 lead under his belt, Smithson was all but guaranteed a win. But the Blue Jays slowly began to chip away at the Red Sox lead.
Toronto picked up two runs in the seventh inning and then four runs in the eighth. But the top of the ninth is where the magic happened for the Blue Jays.
Tony Fernandez led off the inning with a single, and after that Red Sox manager Joe Morgan brought in his closer, Lee Smith. Unfortunately for Boston, Smith didn’t fare much better than his predecessors.
Lee Smith walked Kelly Gruber, gave up a double to George Bell, struck out Fred McGriff, but then walked Lloyd Moseby to load the bases for Ernie Whitt … who represented the go-ahead run for the Blue Jays.
Ernie Whitt then did the unthinkable; he hit a grand slam to deep right field and put the Blue Jays in the lead for the first time in nine innings. Whitt’s home run accounted for a WPA of 65% for the Blue Jays.
However, the lead was short-lived as the Red Sox tied it back up in the bottom of the frame, but the Blue Jays eventually put the game away in the top of the 12th with a two run home run courtesy of Junior Felix.
Perhaps the most incredible thing of all about the game is as late as the seventh inning, the Boston Red Sox had a 100% probably of winning the game according to Baseball Reference’s win probability.
That day, the Blue Jays proved the old adage to be true; no lead is safe at Fenway Park.
Even a ten run lead.
Footage courtesy of AllDayBlueJays