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The year the Blue Jays went 0-7 at the worst possible time

With seven games to go, the Blue Jays had won 96 games. At season's end, their win total hadn't changed.

In 1987, Toronto lost the last seven games of the regular season and missed the playoffs

The Blue Jays were eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the season in 1987. 0:22

With just seven games to go in the regular season, the Blue Jays were soaring.

The team had amassed a total of 96 wins and had a seemingly healthy 3½-game lead over the Detroit Tigers.

Yet, when the 1987 season came to a close, Toronto still had 96 wins, but no playoff games to prepare for.

That's what an 0-7 run will do for a team, especially when it happens during the most critical stretch of the year.

Like a baby bird that had fallen out of a nest, the once high-flying Blue Jays had crashed to the ground — and unfortunately, that fall came just as a big cat was pouncing.

Drama in Detroit

Both Jays and Tigers fans were pumped up for the final game of the 1987 season. 0:44

The Tigers would finish the season with a 98-64 record, while the Jays would sit two games back at 96-66.

The two teams wrapped the season with a do-or-die three-game series at Detroit's Tiger Stadium, during which the Jays, of course, went 0-3.

The final game on Oct. 4 drew Canadian fans of both teams, including those who had taken the bus from nearby Windsor, Ont., to catch the action in a push for playoff contention that had grown truly dramatic in the final days of the season.

George Bell was unable to stop the solo home run hit by Larry Herndon on Oct. 4, 1987. That single run decided the game that saw the Jays eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the season. (Robert Kozloff/Associated Press)

The score of that final game was 1-0, courtesy of a home run by Detroit outfielder Larry Herndon, which just cleared the outfield wall and which Toronto outfielder George Bell could not rein in.

That single run came in the second inning and the Jays could not match it by the end of the ninth.

"Their defeat today gives the American League Eastern Division title to Detroit and it caps off what's being called one of the worst late-season collapses ever," Peter Mansbridge told viewers tuning into The National that night.

'There's no losers'

Blue Jays fans react after the team was eliminated from post-season play on the last day of the regular season in 1987. 0:12

Though the Blue Jays had not been victorious, their fans seemed to take some good from what had unfolded on the field in those final days.

"This ball here has been so fine, I think the World Series is going to be anti-climactic," said a fan wearing a plastic Blue Jays cap, who spoke to CBC News in the aftermath of the final loss of the season.

A woman in a Blue Jays jersey tried to make the point that the Detroit-Toronto rivalry had been as good as any post-season matchup.

"As far as we're concerned, there's no losers," she said. "It was a great series."

The players, however, did not appear to be having any fun after suffering the season-ending loss.

"There was little joy here at perhaps their most thrilling season ever," reporter Claude Adams said, as viewers saw images on The National of a dejected-looking Bell, whose MVP-winning season that year had not helped his team reach the playoffs.

"We came so close, I think it was one of the best teams we put on the field in our time and we got beat so bad," Bell said years later.

'They haven't done it'

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle discusses if the Blue Jays should be considered "chokers." 0:23

After it was all over, fans and sports pundits tried to figure out where the blame should lay.

Some blamed the players, some blamed the manager. Some blamed both.

There was also debate over whether or not the team was fundamentally flawed.

"They haven't done it, they've been right there, they've had things in their hip pocket and they haven't had that killer instinct," said Bruce Jenkins, a sportswriter with the San Francisco Chronicle, when speaking with CBC Radio's The Inside Track about the Blue Jays' collapse.

"It's a hard thing to pin down, but they haven't had what it takes — that's for sure."