The Blue Jays can’t afford a hangover day after they clinch a playoff spot
By Cam Lewis1 year ago
Whether it comes this afternoon by way of a Baltimore Orioles loss or whether it comes later on from a win of their own, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to clinch a playoff spot soon.
It’ll be a nice moment for a team one year removed from a terrible end-of-season heartbreak, as the 2021 Blue Jays came up just short of making the playoffs despite winning 91 games in a season in which they played at three different home ballparks.
But even when they get that ‘x’ beside their name in the standings, the Blue Jays will still have work to do.
At the time of writing, they’re a game-and-a-half up on the Tampa Bay Rays and two games up on the Seattle Mariners in the standings. How the Blue Jays do in their final six games of the season against the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles will determine whether they host or go on the road for the three-game wild-card series.
This group made the playoffs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but went into Tampa Bay and got swept aside in two games. They’d surely love to avoid The Trop and finally play a playoff game in front of their fans in Toronto.
It’s common for teams to field what’s known as a “hangover day” lineup the game after they clinch, as players often have a big celebration immediately after earning a playoff spot. We saw that on Wednesday, as the Yankees put out a lineup featuring Aaron Judge and a bunch of bench players.
Back in 2015, the Blue Jays clinched the AL East for the first time since 1993 with a 15-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. The party afterward was incredible, as the Blue Jays popped dozens of bottles of champagne and had many hilarious and memorable quotes captured during the celebration.
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Their clinching win was the first leg of a doubleheader, so they sent out a lineup for the nightcap that consisted of Dalton Pompey, Cliff Pennington, Zeke Carrera, Chris Colabello, Matt Hague, Josh Thole, Muni Kawasaki, Darwin Barney, and Jonathan Diaz and lost by a score of 8-1. The following day was the hangover day, and they again sent out the bench lineup and lost 6-4.
The Blue Jays wound up finishing two games behind the Kansas City Royals for the best record in the American League and were the road team when the two teams met in the American League Championship series a few weeks late.
Now, I’m not saying the Blue Jays should have dialed it back after winning the AL East in 2015. That celebration was incredible and was well-earned as the team ended a massive playoff drought.
But it ultimately serves as a reminder of just important these late-season games can be. Being the home team in the ALCS in 2015 might not have made much of a difference in the end but being the home team in the 2022 wild-card series is significantly different than going on the road to The Trop or Seattle for a three-game set.
The Blue Jays have six games left to separate themselves from the Rays and Mariners and they can’t afford to punt one of those games with a hangover day lineup.
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