There’s little room for error as the Blue Jays head into September’s messy wild-card race
Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis9 months ago
The calendar has flipped from August to September. The dog days of summer are over and we’re now into the final stretch of the season.
Mark Shapiro joined Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker on their Sportsnet radio show ahead of Wednesday’s series finale with the Chicago Cubs and offered a glass-half-full-but-realistic interpretation of where the Blue Jays are currently standing…
“I think if you’d told me we’d be 12 games above .500 and three games ahead for a playoff spot I’d probably say, ‘I’d like to be a little better than that.’But we’re in a good spot. It’s an awkward juncture, I wouldn’t normally come on with you guys right now because it’s not time to draw conclusions, it’s time to kind of understand where we are. It’s been an up and down season, certainly. One that’s one of the more strange ones that I’ve observed.”
The team owns a 70-59 record after losing on Wednesday. They’re in the third and final wild-card spot in the American League, a game-and-a-half back of the Seattle Mariners (72-58), two games back of the Tampa Bay Rays (72-57), and two games up on the Baltimore Orioles (68-61).
There are other teams in the wild-card mix and the AL East crown isn’t necessarily out of reach as the New York Yankees have been a completely different team in the second half of the season, but the Blue Jays’ focus down the stretch is mostly going to be on the Rays and Orioles.
The Blue Jays have 33 games left on their schedule this season. They’ll play eight games against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies, but otherwise, all of their games down the stretch will be against AL East opponents. This means the Blue Jays have an opportunity to control their own destiny in the wild-card race, but it also means there really isn’t much room for error.
There are nine games left against the Rays, including a five-game series in Toronto with a double-header and a four-game series down at The Trop. The Blue Jays are 4-6 thus far against the Rays this season and anything less than a 6-3 run in those head-to-head games will make it pretty difficult to hop the Rays in the standings.
And then there’s the Orioles. When the schedule was dropped, we all looked at the glut of games against the Orioles in September and thought ‘wow, a nice and easy ride right into the playoffs!’
So much for that!
The O’s are just three games back of the Blue Jays in the standings and they’ve just called up their top prospect, infielder Gunnar Henderson, who slashed a .297/.416/.531 line over 503 plate appearances in Triple-A this season. In his big-league debut, Henderson went 2-for-4 with a home run…
The Blue Jays haven’t fared well against the Orioles thus far, as Baltimore has won six of the nine meetings between the teams in 2022, a stark change from when Toronto beat them 14 times in 19 games last season.
The two teams will play a four-game set in Baltimore after the upcoming series in Pittsburgh this weekend and there’ll be a double-header on Monday to kick things off. After that, the Blue Jays and Orioles will meet for a three-game series in Toronto in mid-September and the season will conclude with a three-game series in Baltimore.
This has been a weird up-and-down season and, as a result, the Blue Jays have very little room for error in these head-to-heads in September. It’s time for the Blue Jays to step up and be the team they can be. If not, they’re leaving the door open for the Orioles to hand them an embarrassing conclusion to this year’s movie.
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