This was supposed to be the year that the extra Wild Card slot allowed Toronto to escape the depth of the American League East and take their rightful place in the postseason. It was not as if the chances had not presented themselves. The Boston Red Sox kindly fell from grace, opening the door for Toronto to make their move. Instead, injuries and ineffectiveness killed any chances of making their first playoff appearance since 1993.
The Baltimore Orioles represent everything that the Toronto Blue Jays should have been in 2012. A hungry team, winning at any cost, even if run differential said otherwise. Their step forward has taken them to within 1.5 games of first place in the American League East and a 2.5 game lead in the Wild Card hunt.
Needless to say, it is somewhat fitting that the Blue Jays will have a say in where Baltimore finishes the season. After dropping the first game on Monday, Toronto took game two of the double-header, breaking Ricky Romero‘s personal 13-game losing streak in the process.
The Jays wrap up said series with Baltimore this evening, with Carlos Villanueva (7-6, 3.88 ERA) matched up with Miguel Gonzalez (7-4, 3.52). This will be the final match-up between Baltimore and Toronto in 2012, with the Jays going home to close out the season with a four-game set against New York and then a three-game series with Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Orioles close-out with three each against Boston and Tampa Bay.
With a Toronto win on Wednesday, coupled with their 5-0 shut-out of the Orioles Tuesday night, the Blue Jays are doing a solid job of making sure the Orioles stay firmly behind the Yankees in the division, which may or may not be a blessing in its own right.
Granted, the key component of being the spoiler is winning ballgames, something the Blue Jays have done just eight times in September. But that is the beauty of the stretch run.
All it takes is a win here or a win there to spoil someone’s day.