Blue Jays home openers of recent years

Each spring, a certain buzz accompanies the Blue Jays' home opener. It's no different this year, as Roy Halladay throws the first pitch before the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka makes his big-league debut and Toronto's Dustin McGowan starts for the first time in more than two years.

Halladay returns to throw this year's 1st pitch vs. Yankees

Roy Halladay started the Jays' 2004 home opener against Detroit. Now retired, he'll throw the ceremonial first pitch Friday. (Aaron Harris/Canadian Press)

Each spring, a certain buzz accompanies the Toronto Blue Jays' home opener, no matter the outlook for the forthcoming season.

This year is no different, as retired former Jays ace Roy Halladay returns to a sold-out Rogers Centre to throw Friday night's ceremonial first pitch against the Yankees.

The game is rich in storylines, as Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter makes the first Toronto stop on his farewell tour, while New York starter Masahiro Tanaka makes his big-league debut and Toronto's Dustin McGowan starts for the first time in more than two years.

Take a trip down memory lane as we highlight the most recent home openers in Toronto:


April 2 versus Cleveland

  • Result: 4-1 Indians
  • Attendance: 48,857
  • WP: Justin Masterson
  • LP: R.A. Dickey
  • Save: Chris Perez

Toronto came into the year with high expectations for a turnaround season after the high-profile acquisitions of star shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Melky Cabrera, and starting pitchers Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey, the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

But the home opener was a sign of things to come, as Dickey didn't have his best stuff, walking four and giving up five hits over six innings. He'd go on to finish 14-13, and Toronto wound up in the AL East basement.

Blue Jays season record: 74-88, fifth in AL East.


April 9 versus Boston

  • Result: 4-2 Red Sox
  • Attendance: 48,473
  • WP: Scott Atchison
  • LP: Sergio Santos
  • Save: Alfredo Aceves

Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez kept Boston hitters in checking, yielding one run over six solid innings.

Toronto led 2-1 entering the ninth inning when new closer Sergio Santos made his first home appearance since being acquired in a December trade with the Chicago White Sox.

He was booed off the mound a few minutes later after blowing the save, allowing three runs including a Ryan Sweeney single that gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.

Colby Rasmus had the lone extra-base hit by the Blue Jays, a triple, while Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson drove in the Toronto runs.

Blue Jays season record: 73-89, fourth in AL East.


April 1 vs. Minnesota

  • Result: 13-3 Blue Jays
  • Attendance: 47,984
  • WP: Ricky Romero
  • LP: Carl Pavano

Toronto took off in the first inning with four runs against veteran Twins right-hander Carl Pavano and tacked on six more before the start of the sixth.

Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero looked the part of a No. 1 pitcher he was designated to be, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up three runs (one earned) with seven strikeouts.

Catcher J.P. Arencibia homered twice and went 3-for-4 on the night with five runs batted in and two runs scored.

Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor and Carlos Villanueva combined for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Blue Jays season record: 81-81, fourth in AL East.


April 12 vs. Chicago White Sox

  • Result: 8-7 White Sox (11 innings)
  • Attendance: 46,321
  • WP: Matt Thornton
  • LP: Jeremy Accardo
  • Save: Bobby Jenks

Toronto jumped on Chicago starter Jake Peavy early and often, building a 6-4 advantage after three innings, but the White Sox tagged Brian Tallet for six runs in as many innings.

After the Blue Jays scored a run to break a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the sixth, Canadian Mark Teahen forced extra innings with a solo homer off Jason Frasor in the ninth inning.

Jeremy Accardo, the fifth Toronto pitcher of the game, went two innings and gave up the winning run in the 11th.

Five Chicago relievers blanked the Jays over the final 5 1/3 innings.

Blue Jays season record: 85-77, fourth in AL East.


April 6 vs. Detroit

  • Result: 12-5 Blue Jays
  • Attendance: 48,027
  • WP: Roy Halladay
  • LP: Justin Verlander

The anticipated pitchers’ duel between aces never materialized as Toronto touched Verlander for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings including four in its first at-bat.

It wasn’t vintage Halladay, either, at Rogers Centre as he coughed up five runs in seven innings with only a couple of strikeouts and two home runs allowed.

Adam Lind led the Blue Jays offence with a 4-for-5, six-RBI performance that included a home run.

Each of the nine Toronto batters registered at least one hit, with Alex Rios, Vernon Wells and Travis Snider recording two apiece.

Blue Jays season record: 75-87, fourth in AL East.


April 4 vs. Boston

  • Result: 6-3 Blue Jays
  • Attendance: 50,171
  • WP: Shaun Marcum
  • LP: David Aardsma
  • Save: Jeremy Accardo

Shaun Marcum got the call for the home opener at Rogers Centre after Toronto opened the season with a win and two losses at Yankee Stadium.

He shut out the Red Sox for six innings before giving up three runs in the seventh as Boston quickly erased a 3-0 Blue Jays lead. Marcum also struck out eight in his seven-inning performance.

Toronto scored three runs in six innings with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield but this game came down to the bullpens.

Brian Tallet and Jeremy Accardo threw up good eggs for the Jays while Boston relievers David Aardsma, Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen each surrendered a run in an inning of work.

Blue Jays season record: 86-76, fourth in AL East.


April 9 vs. Kansas City

  • Result: 9-1 Blue Jays
  • Attendance: 50,125
  • WP: A.J. Burnett
  • LP: Odalis Perez

Toronto returned from a 3-2 trip in Detroit and Tampa Bay with hot bats as Lyle Overbay got things started with a three-run double to highlight a four-run second inning.

Blue Jays blew the door open in the fifth with three runs as Odalis Perez and Jason Stanridge surrendered a combined eight runs.

Toronto starter A.J. Burnett was strong, limiting the Royals to a run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched, with Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo and Victor Zambrano finishing up.

The Jays outhit Kansas City 14-4, with Aaron Hill going 3-for-3 and each Toronto starter posting at least one hit.

Blue Jays season record: 83-79, third in AL East.


April 4 vs Minnesota

  • Result: 6-3 Blue Jays
  • Attendance: 50,449
  • WP: Roy Halladay
  • LP: Johan Santana
  • Save: B.J. Ryan

With newcomers Troy Glaus, A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan on board, Toronto opened the season with a well-pitched victory over the Twins.

Ace Roy Halladay limited the damage to a pair of solo home runs by ex-Blue Jays Tony Batista and Shannon Stewart, striking out four in his 7 2/3 innings of work, with Scott Schoeneweis and closer B.J. Ryan getting the final four outs.

Stewart had three of Minnesota’s five hits.

Bengie Molina and Alex Rios each hit a two-run home run to lead Toronto’s 14-hit attack.

Blue Jays season record: 87-75, second in AL East.


April 8 vs. Boston

  • Result: 6-5 Red Sox
  • Attendance: 50,560
  • WP: Bronson Arroyo
  • LP: Dave Bush
  • Save: Keith Foulke

The visiting Red Sox scored in the first inning  against Dave Bush and never relinquished the lead before a crowd of 50,560, Toronto's largest attendance for a home opener.

Bush allowed three runs in five innings, two of which came on home runs to Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon. Brandon League came on in relief in the sixth and proceeded to give up three runs on five hits.

Toronto trailed by three runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning but Boston closer Keith Foulke made things interesting by giving up two runs on three singles and a ground ball.

Eric Hinske led the Jays at the plate with three hits in four at-bats along with two runs batted in and two runs scored.

Blue Jays season record: 80-82, third in AL East.


April 5 vs. Detroit

  • Result: 7-0 Tigers
  • Attendance: 47,817
  • WP: Jason Johnson
  • LP: Roy Halladay

This seemed like a blowout in the making, given the pitching matchup of Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay against Jason Johnson, a back-of-the-rotation type for Detroit.

It was, only it was the visiting Tigers administering the punishment to the tune of three-run innings in the sixth and seventh to break open a 1-0 contest.

Johnson kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard for six innings, allowing four hits and inducing seven ground balls.

Carlos Pena, Ivan Rodriguez and Rondell White went deep against Halladay, who allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Blue Jays season record: 67-94, fifth in AL East.


March 31 vs. NY Yankees

  • Result: 8-4 Yankees
  • Attendance: 50,119
  • WP: Roger Clemens
  • LP: Roy Halladay

Coming off a breakthrough 19-7 season in 2002, Roy Halladay earned the start on opening day, but was outpitched by former Blue Jay Roger Clemens.

The Yankees touched Halladay for a first-inning run, two in the fourth and five more in the sixth as "Doc" uncharacteristically walked four in his 5 2/3 innings and allowed two home runs including a grand slam to Alfonso Soriano.

Halladay did turn things around, winning his first Cy Young Award this season as the top pitcher in the American League.

Clemens, on the other hand, shut out the Jays over six innings, allowing three hits, striking out five and didn’t walk a batter.

Blue Jays season record: 86-76, third in AL East.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.