If only J.P. Arencibia had put down a sacrifice bunt successfully, who knows? Perhaps the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians might have played another 16 innings on opening day.
Instead, after twice missing a sign and failing to execute imagined orders, Arencibia swung away and connected for a tie-breaking three-run home run in the 16th, helping Toronto outlast Cleveland 7-4 in the longest season opener in major league history.
Arencibia's homer capped an entertaining, if also sloppy and maddening ballgame in which both teams blew opportunities to win. Indians right-hander Justin Masterson dominated for eight innings with 10 strikeouts, but closer Chris Perez blew a three-run lead in the ninth. Toronto's bullpen pitched 11 scoreless innings after starter Ricky Romero struggled. The Blue Jays used former Indians great Omar Vizquel — who is nearly 45 years old — as a defensive replacement in the 12th, bringing him in from left field, technically, in a five-man infield. And the tactic worked out.
Oh, and the teams nearly brawled after Shin-Soo Choo got dusted on a pitch by Toronto's Luis Perez. Someone, stop the madness!
Even though he started 0 for 6 with three strikeouts, Arencibia seemed like a good candidate to do it. He hit two homers on opening day a season ago, and homered twice in his major league debut in 2010. All the Jays needed this time was one big fly. But first, a bunting interlude.
Arencibia stepped to the plate with the score tied 4-all, an inning after Rajai Davis embarrassingly failed to run out a bunt that led to a double play. Coach Brian Butterfield went through his signs twice, and both times Arencibia misunderstood. The second time, he popped a bunt foul to get in a two-strike hole:
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