The American League's two newest teams, Toronto and Seattle, faced off at the Kingdome on a Friday night before 10,012 curious spectators. The Blue Jays pounded out five home runs as they won 7-5. The Blue Jays were in third place 2 games behind first place New York. The Mariners were tied for second with California, 3 1/2 games behind first place Kansas City.
Toronto manager Jimy Williams picked lefty John Cerutti to start. Seattle manager Dick Williams chose righthander Scott Bankhead as his starter. The Mariners were coming off a 67-95 last place finish in 1986 and hoping that Dick Williams would be able to turn around the franchise. Jimy Williams was in his second year in charge of the Blue Jays, taking over for Bobby Cox who left after the Blue Jays AL East title in 1985 to become general manager of Atlanta.
George Bell homered in the second inning to put Toronto ahead 1-0. In the fourth, Bell and Lloyd Moseby hit solo home runs to put the Blue Jays up 3-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cerutti gave up leadoff singles to Jim Presley and Ken Phelps and Mark Eichhorn came into relieve Cerutti. Eichhorn had put up one of the best relief pitching seasons ever in 1986 with a 1.72 ERA in 157 innings. He wouldn't be quite as sharp in 1987. And he wasn't sharp in the fourth inning.
The first batter Eichhorn faced was Dave Valle and Eichhorn hit him with a pitch to load the bases. Alvin Davis singled in two runs to make it 3-2 Toronto. Mike Kingery pinch hit for John Christensen and hit a sacrifice fly to score Phelps to tie the game. Rey Quiñones grounded into a force play and Valle scored and Seattle led 4-3.
The Blue Jays lost Bell after he was ejected in the fifth inning after striking out and Rick Leach replaced him in left field. In the seventh, Kelly Gruber homered to tie the game at 4-4. After Mike Sharperson struck out, Tony Fernandez walked. Ernie Whitt hit a grounder to Davis at first and he tried to get a force at second, but threw the ball into left field and Fernandez went to third. Willie Upshaw singled home Fernandez and Leach singled home Whitt and it was 6-4 Toronto. Finally, Dick Williams decided to pull Bankhead in favor of Jerry Reed. Bankhead had given up 11 hits, including four home runs in 6 1/3 innings. After the game, Seattle's Williams would admit that he should have pulled Bankhead earlier.
In the bottom of the seventh, Seattle got one run back. Phil Bradley led off with a triple and scored on a Presley ground out. Jeff Musselman came into relieve and got out of the inning.
In the eighth, Gruber hit his second home run of the game (and the season too) to put Toronto up 7-5. In the bottom of the eighth, with one out, Kingery doubled and Toronto's relief ace Tom Henke came in. Scott Bradley pinch hit for Quiñones and lofted a long fly ball to center, but Moseby tracked it down at the fence and Seattle's threat died. Henke retired the Mariners in order in the ninth to close it out.
1987 was not a happy year in either Toronto or Seattle. The Blue Jays led Detroit by 3 1/2 games with seven left to play. The Blue Jays would not win another game, including a three-game sweep in Detroit as the Tigers won the AL East.
Seattle would finish fourth in the AL West at 78-84, seven games behind first place Minnesota. Although the 78 wins were a franchise high, it was the 11th straight losing season for the Mariners. The Mariners would not finish over .500 until 1991.
Bell would win the AL MVP, batting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBI. It was a power-filled year through out baseball as home run totals spiked. The highlight for the Blue Jays came on September 14 when they hit a major league record 10 home runs in an 18-3 win over Baltimore at Exhibition Stadium. Eight Blue Jay hitters were in double figures in home runs.
The Mariners weren't as powerful, but they had a good pitcher in Mark Langston, who led the AL in strikeouts with 262. Mike Moore suffered through a 9-19 year. There wasn't much of a bullpen with Ed Nuñez leading the staff in saves with 12.