That four-game sweep by the Rangers was a blessing in disguise for the Blue Jays
Photo credit:Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
Remember when the Blue Jays were swept by the Texas Rangers and it felt like the season was over?
After that series wrapped up on September 14, Toronto sat 1.5 games out of the final wild card after coming into the four-game series a game and a half up on Texas. They also lost the tiebreaker against the Rangers because Texas had won the season series.
The fans were booing and things looked dire, but I believe the series sweep lit a fire under the Blue Jays’ asses and helped them turn things around.
Let me take you back…
I am a fan of basketball. I don’t tweet about it often, or write about it at all, but I love the sport. It’s probably the only sport I can play somewhat well.
After trading for Kawhi Leonard in the summer of 2018, the Toronto Raptors were all in for the 2018-19 season. They played well in the regular season, earning the second seed with a 58-24 record, two games back of the Milwaukee Bucks.
In the first round, the Raptors faced off against the Orlando Magic. Expecting pure dominance, they came out to their home crowd and… lost the first game. D.J. Augustin hit a late-game three to give the Magic a 104-101 lead with 3.4 to go.
Now obviously, the rest is history, the Raptors would win the next four games against Orlando, outlast the Philadelphia 76ers with their own game-winning shot, and go down two games to the Bucks before winning the next four (with Leonard bodying Giannis Antetokounmpo), and beat the Golden State Warriors in six games.
This was the first time a Canadian team in a Big Four league brought home a championship since the Blue Jays did in 1993. Would it have been possible that would have won the championship regardless of if they won the first game of the playoffs? Absolutely. But I believe D.J. Augustin’s game-winning shot lit a fire under the Raptors’ butts.
A more direct example…
It’s also happened to the Blue Jays, ironically coming against the Texas Rangers in the 2015 American League Divisional series.
Game one was on October 8, and it was a slog. Texas jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before the Jays got one back in the bottom of the fourth. The Rangers then scored two the next time they were up before the Jays eventually made it 4-3, the closest they got to winning this game that Texas won 5-3.
Game two was a day later, and this one was even more painful. Toronto made it a 4-3 game in the bottom of the fifth before Texas tied it in the top of the eighth. At this point, my school day ended (yes, I was in my senior year of high school), and I was surprised that the game went into extra innings. In fact, they played five more innings before Texas scored two in the top of the 14th, which the Blue Jays were unable to match.
The series shifted to Texas for the next two games, where the Jays won 5-1 and 8-4 respectively, before returning home. The rest is history, as the Rangers had a comedy of errors before José Bautista iced the game with that home run.
Now, it wasn’t the same result for the 2015 Blue Jays as the 2019 Raptors had, but it lit a fire under the Jays’ asses.
Fate seems to be on their side…
For the past two seasons, the Blue Jays have played better in September, and 2023 is no different. However, things have gone very, very well since they were swept by the Rangers.
This was pretty evident with how quickly they regained their position in a wild card spot. After sweeping the Boston Red Sox the following series, the Jays moved back into the second wild-card spot. However, they got some good luck as well, as Texas and Seattle were swept in their series.
In fact, it’s gone really well for the Jays. There are three other teams that impact the Jays, (Seattle, Texas, and Houston Astros). Since the sweep, the vast majority of games have gone the Jays way, per @James_in_to.
Deep run incoming?
Ideally, the Blue Jays fall to the third wild card spot, setting up a date against the Minnesota Twins. At this point, the Jays will be playing at another team’s stadium no matter what, so you may as well play the weakest team in the playoffs.
In this scenario, they’d then move to play the American League West division winner. That could be one of either Texas, Houston, or Seattle.
If the Jays were to get the second wild card spot, they’d either play Baltimore or Tampa away (depending on who wins the division) and if they were to win, they’d play the team that won the division. This is a significantly bigger challenge.
Either way, if the bats get going, the Jays certainly have all the tools to go all the way.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.
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