Alright, I kid, I kid. I know I’ve been hard on the big fella the last couple years, but last night’s going out party was a reminder of all the great things Cito Gaston has done not just for the city of Toronto, but also for the game of baseball. After 21 seasons in the organization as a manager and hitting coach, Cito resided over his last home game last night, an 8-4 win over the Yankees.
Travis Snider got the Jays off on the right foot in the bottom of the first, homering off Javier Vazquez’s dead arm to start the game and give Toronto its franchise record 245th homer this season. John Buck followed with a solo shot in the second and Aaron Hill hit a three-run bomb to chase Vazquez and give the Jays a 7-0 lead in the fifth, then added an RBI single in the eighth for insurance after New York made it slightly interesting with three in the sixth. Brett Cecil went 5 1/3 and allowed three runs to pick up the win and finish the year an impressive 15-7 in just 28 starts. Pretty, pretty good for a guy that started the season down in Vegas.
As for Cito, the franchise saw him out of the dugout and into his adviser’s role in fine fashion, bringing in Joe Carter, George Bell, Pat Hentgen and a handful of other guests for a pre-game ceremony with a couple Jumbotron presentations and one of those paintings by Vernon Wells’ father that everyone seems to love so much. I’ll have more on Gaston and the celebration soon, including a gallery up on Facebook. Stay tuned.
Aside from sending Cito out on a nice note, the win also runs the Jays’ record to 82-76 and guarantees an above-.500 season in a year when they would’ve been considered lucky to win 70. Amazing stuff, and plenty to look forward to in years to come. They’re on to Minnesota to finish with four against the playoff-bound Twins, with Shawn Hill (1-2, 2.81) going in the opener tonight against Francisco Liriano (14-9, 3.48).