A couple of hits, a home run or perhaps a stolen base by Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion would probably get Toronto Blue Jays fans talking Tuesday night.
They’ve had little to cheer for in recent memory when it comes to standout hitting performances at Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, save for a pair of doubles by Troy Glaus and John Buck at the 2003 and 2010 Midsummer Classics, respectively.
Blue Jays' all-star leaders
- At-bats: 18 (Roberto Alomar)
- Hits: 6 (Alomar)
- Home runs: 2 (Alomar)
- RBIs: Carlos Delgado, Devon White, Alomar and Carter (one each)
- Stolen bases: 4 (Alomar)
- Strikeouts: 2 (Jesse Barfield, Tony Fernandez)
- Innings: 11 2/3 (Dave Stieb)
- Wins: B.J. Ryan, Jimmy Key, Stieb (one each)
- Losses: 1 (Stieb)
- Wild pitches: 2 (Stieb)
- Walks: 6 (Stieb)
- Strikeouts: 10 (Stieb)
Bautista, who is a combined 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout at the past three All-Star Games, will be making his fourth appearance at the event, and third as a starter, at Citi Field in New York.
The right-fielder will be joined by Jays relief pitchers Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar along with Encarnacion, all of whom are first-time all-stars, to make it 39 Toronto all-stars (26 position players and 13 pitchers) since 1977.
You have to go back to the 2003 All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago to find the last Blue Jay to drive in a run. That’s when first baseman Carlos Delgado singled off Philadelphia left-hander Randy Wolf to plate Ichiro Suzuki in an eventual 7-6 win by the American League over its National League counterparts.
Roberto Alomar remains the lone Blue Jay to hit a home run in all-star competition after taking San Diego right-hander Andy Benes over the fence at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore during the AL’s 9-3 victory in 1993.
He did it again in 1998, taking San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman deep in a three-hit performance at Coors Field in Colorado.
Toronto all-stars have been a threat on the bases, though, with Alomar recording the club’s two most recent steals in 1994 and ’95. Devon White stole second base off pitcher Bryan Harvey and catcher Mike Piazza in 1993 while Kelly Gruber posted two thefts in 1990 and Damaso Garcia and Lloyd Moseby one apiece at the 1985 and ’86 All-Star Games, respectively.
Before Joe Carter hit the biggest home run of his life to lift the Blue Jays to the second of back-to-back World Series titles in 1993, he became the first player in franchise history to have more than one hit in an All-Star Game.
On July 14, 1992 at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium, Carter singled off Atlanta left-hander Tom Glavine in the first inning and singled to centre-field in the second to score Alomar from third base after the latter stole second and third.
Other all-star moments by Jays hitters include:
- Vernon Wells’s single off Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 7-6 AL win in 2003, the same season the Canadian closer was named NL MVP after saving 55 games.
- Carter going 1-for-1 with a run scored and walk in front of the hometown fans at SkyDome in Toronto on July 9, 1991.
- Kelly Gruber going hitless but drawing a walk and stealing two bases off L.A. Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia in the AL’s 2-0 win at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
- On July 15, 2006 at the Astrodome in Houston, Jesse Barfield struck out looking in the fourth inning against Fernando Valenzuela and in the seventh versus Astros right-hander Mike Scott.
From a pitching perspective, Dave Stieb and Roy Halladay have dominated the all-star headlines in Toronto.
Stieb holds the team record for appearances with seven, followed by Halladay’s six.
His best all-star performance came on July 6, 1983 when Stieb twirled three no-hit innings at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. He struck out Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy and Mike Schmidt in the first inning before catching Tim Raines looking in the third.
In 1987, Tom Henke retired eight of 10 batters he faced at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, shutting out the NL over 2 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and striking out Philadelphia’s Juan Samuel to end his appearance.
Blue Jays right-hander Juan Guzman struck out Ryne Sandberg and Benito Santiago to open the bottom of the third inning at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 14, 1992. He then loaded the bases on a single, double and walk before inducing Barry Bonds to fly out in foul territory.
Halladay has been named to six All-Star Games and pitched in four of them, giving up six earned runs over six innings. In the ace hurler’s first All-Star Game, in 2002, Halladay allowed three runs (all earned) including a two-run home run to Bonds at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Seven years later in St. Louis, Halladay, in his final season with Toronto, pitched a clean first inning and set down Ryan Braun and Raul Ibanez to begin the second before disaster struck.
David Wright, Shane Victorino and Yadier Molina singled before Prince Fielder hit a bases-clearing ground rule double.