Josh Donaldson provided Blue Jays fans with many memorable moments over his four-year stint with the team. Here are five of his best:
WALKING OFF 2015
Toronto went into the 2015 post-season — its first playoff appearance since 1993 — on a dramatic note when Donaldson hit a solo walk-off homer against the Tampa Bay Rays in the regular-season finale at Rogers Centre. The ninth-inning blast to left field gave Toronto a 5-4 comeback win over Tampa Bay, putting a wild ending on an already tantalizing regular season, his first as a Blue Jay. That home run was Donaldson's 41st of the season and his league-leading 123rd RBI, helping him secure the AL MVP that year. He was the first Blue Jays player to win the award since George Bell in 1987.
SLIDING INTO THE 2016 ALCS
Donaldson sent Toronto into the 2016 American League Championship Series by scoring the winning run in Game 3 of the ALDS, capping a three-game sweep over the Texas Rangers with a 7-6 victory in 10 innings. Russell Martin hit a grounder between second and shortstop and Donalson, running from second base, dove into home on an errant throw by Rougned Odor to thunderous applause from the sellout home crowd. Toronto went on to lose to Cleveland in five games in the ALCS.
TRADING FOR AN MVP
Excitement for Donaldson's arrival in Toronto began the moment he was acquired in an off-season trade with the Oakland Athletics in 2014 — a five-player move that will go down as one of the best completed during then general manager Alex Anthopoulos' tenure in Toronto. Donaldson showcased his offensive potential immediately, batting .319 through April, and when the team scuffled early he wasn't afraid to voice his concerns. Donaldson told reporters after a loss in mid May that "this isn't the try league, this is the get it done league," a comment that served as a rallying point for a season that ended with Toronto winning the AL East for the first time in 22 years.
SOARING INTO THE SEATS
A spectacular catch in June 2015 had the MLB world in awe when Donaldson dove into the stands in Tampa Bay to temporarily preserve a Marco Estrada perfect game attempt. Donaldson leaped over the barrier between the field and the seats along the third-base line at Tropicana Field to catch a foul pop up in the top of the eighth inning. Donaldson, beaming with a bright smile, quickly got back to his feet and held up his glove as Estrada put his arms up and pointed to his third baseman in disbelief. Estrada lost the perfect game when the next batter recorded an infield hit, beating out a Donaldson throw at first base by a split second.
Tempers flared in the Blue Jays dugout during an August 2016 game at Yankee Stadium after Donaldson threw his bat into the wall while walking off the field after a strikeout. Manager John Gibbons took exception to the display and confronted his all-star in the dugout. The two had to be separated by catcher Josh Thole and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Donaldson provided some comic relief to a tense situation after the game, telling reporters: "Gibby just asked me what kind of cologne I was wearing. ... He got pretty close to me and I guess he got a good whiff of it. I was like, 'hey man, back up.'"
The Canadian Press