(Photo: Kelly Roche)
BY KELLY ROCHE
Fifteen and two were the only numbers Jeff Caterine was counting on his birthday Wednesday night.
“This is why I played baseball growing up, not hockey,” said Caterine, a Clarkson resident.
The Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 15-2, clinching the AL East title, securing home field, and celebrating the first playoff berth in 22 years.
Caterine was out celebrating with a group at the Clarkson Pump and Patio.
“That’s cute of (the Orioles) to get one point,” said Caterine, when Baltimore scored their first run in the seventh inning.
He said he’s a lifer but doesn’t mind the bandwagon fans.
“If everyone liked the Jays this often the city would be — it brings the city together. Even strangers have something to talk about right now, other than ISIS and political things.”
Political things were the last thing on Jonathan Peckham’s mind as he rocked a blue No. 20 Josh Donaldson jersey.
“These guys are playing with amazing hustle,” said Peckham, who lives in Milton.
“They’re all playing together and the bullpen’s coming out, and so are the heavy hitters.”
Peckham said he’s been true blue since “my dad got me into it when I was a kid.”
Back then, he collected Fleer and Upper Deck baseball cards and went to the SkyDome to cheer on the team.
“I go to the games more often now,” he said, adding he remembers his Grade 6 music class singing the national anthem not long after artificial turf was installed.
Peckham said he thinks Edwin Encarnacion and Donaldson have been the key players this year, and “I’m hoping we go all the way.”
Sue Matichuk of Oakville remembers going all the way to Dunedin, Florida for spring training.
“This is circa Pete Rose and when the Phillies practiced at the same field as the Jays,” said Matichuk.
She used the word “dynamite” to describe the current team.
“I think that they’ve been talking about this potential for some time and it’s always about characters and personalities meshing versus actual physical ability, so obviously something’s clicked and it’s a good lesson, just in life, to extrapolate that to other things,” said Matichuk.
Speaking of physical ability, slugger Jose Bautista hit his 40th homer.
Watching the Jays is “pretty exciting right now,” said Mike McMillan, who was at Wingporium in Port Credit.
He fondly recalls the 1992-1993 World Series and said his interest in the Jays tapered off then ramped up last year.
Jaysheel Pandya, on the other hand, said he’s only been watching baseball for four months.
The first Jays game he watched was against Boston.
“We crushed them, 7-0, and that’s when I became a fan,” said Pandya.
“I got hooked.”
He’s not exactly into the heavy hitters but said he appreciates pitching, particularly by Aaron Sanchez and David Price.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman nailed the big win Wednesday, allowing a single run in eight innings.
The Jays improved to 92-65 and continued into the second game of the Orioles double-header with R.A. Dickey on the mound. Baltimore won 8-1. The teams square off again tomorrow.