Blue Jays feeling the effects of ‘epic’ fan support going into playoffs

First baseman Chris Colabello experiences Blue Jays fever every time he looks at his phone or steps out his door. “It’s pretty epic,” he said. Colabello, a platoon player who readily admits he’s nowhere near the top of the Jays’ star pecking order, says just getting a cup of coffee is an adventure these days.

TORONTO — First baseman Chris Colabello experiences Blue Jays fever every time he looks at his phone or steps out his door.

“It’s pretty epic,” he said.

Colabello, a platoon player who readily admits he’s nowhere near the top of the Jays’ star pecking order, says just getting a cup of coffee is an adventure these days.

“That’s a testament to how much this city loves their team and appreciates what we’ve done for them,” he said. “And we hope to continue it for them.”

“It’s a blessing,” added left-fielder Ben Revere.

Toronto’s wild ride this season will go up a gear Thursday when the Blue Jays host the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of their American League Division Series. It’s Toronto’s first visit to the post-season since winning a second straight World Series in 1993 and interest is booming.

Toronto ace David Price will face Texas’ Yovani Gallardo in the series opener while Marcus Stroman, adding a new chapter to his remarkable comeback from spring training knee surgery, takes on Rangers marquee man Cole Hamels in Game 2 Friday.

The best-of-five series will then descend on Texas for the next two games, if necessary, with Game 5 in Toronto if needed.

A relaxed bunch of Jays met the media Tuesday before working out at the Rogers Centre to the diverse sounds of Miguel, Beck, Fetty Wap, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, the Zac Brown Band and Hardwell.

Promotions for Thursday’s game flashed on the giant scoreboard as the players held batting practice.

Earlier, manager John Gibbons leaned back in his chair as he chatted with reporters in his office.

“I feel good,” he said. “Nice and relaxed. I feel good about the way the year’s gone. And you know what I think we’ve got a real shot to advance in this thing.

“You never know (in) the playoffs. Everybody will tell you that … But I feel confident in the group. I know they feel confident. We’ve just got to go out and play it.”

The 53-year-old Gibbons, in his second go-round as Toronto manager, summed up the Jays’ formula for success.

“We score a lot of runs. That’s really what this team is,” he said. “But we started winning more when we started playing better defence — a couple of changes — and the bullpen improved.”

And he pointed to Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Price and Stroman as the kind of players who thrive on the big stage.

Every Jay is in the spotlight these days, with fans across the country following the team.

Colabello, who has 24,100 Twitter followers, estimates 20,000 of them came after joining Toronto this season.

Gibbons says he too feels the buzz.

“I get recognized probably a little bit more — maybe in a better way,” he said with a smile. “You can just feel the excitement, no doubt about that.”

His phone isn’t lighting up, however.

“My buddies might call. (It’s a) secure number,” he added with a grin.

Toronto (93-69) went 4-2 against Texas (88-74) this season. Toronto and Texas were 1-2 in scoring runs in the second half of the season when Toronto went 48-23 and Texas 46-28.

Both managers have only confirmed their starters for the first two games of the series. Gibbons said one of R.A. Dickey and Marco Estrada will pitch Game 3. Stroman used social media to announce his Game 2 start.

“Tore my ACL, finished my degree from @DukeU, rehabbed my knee in 5 months, and now pitching in Game 2 of the .ALDS. Crazy excited!” he tweeted Tuesday.

Hamels threw a complete game Sunday in Texas’ regular-season finale, a 9-2 win over the Angels that clinched the AL West title.

The Rangers have won their past 10 games started by Hamels, who is 7-1 in 12 starts since being acquired from Philadelphia in late July.

The two Texas pitchers have fared differently against the Jays in a limited number of meetings

Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) won both of his starts this season against Toronto, pitching 13 2/3 scoreless innings. Toronto managed just six hits while batting 136 against him. Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA all-time against the Jays.

Hamels is 0-2 with a career 6.97 ERA in four starts against the Jays. On the plus side, his post-season ERA is 3.09 against all teams.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read