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Blue Jays AL East Recap: Blue Jays fighting for first

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Sep 4, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit (53) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit (53) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Each week, Jays Journal will take a look at the bigger picture of the American League East to help frame not only where the Blue Jays are in the standings, but why they are there.

Toronto Blue Jays: 77-59
Boston Red Sox: 76-60
Baltimore Orioles: 73-62
New York Yankees: 70-65
Tampa Bay Rays: 58-77

The Toronto Blue Jays fought hard against division foes all week and narrowly made it out of the week with their lead in tact. The Blue Jays ended the week with a 3-3 record and one game ahead of the Red Sox for first.

Toronto dazzled to begin the week, taking two of three from the reeling Orioles. The weekend was much less favourable, as the Rays once again had the Blue Jays number. The Jays narrowly avoided the sweep on Sunday after being hammered on Friday and Saturday. This once again highlighted a troubling trend for the Blue Jays. Usually dominant starters Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ have struggled quite a bit recently, and those struggles were pronounced this week.

With very little breathing room they’ll hope they can get back on track against the upstart Yankees to start the week. The end of the week also features a critical series against Boston. The Blue Jays used their expanded roster to add Devon Travis (who was only gone for a day), Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, Dalton Pompey, Darrell Ceciliani, Aaron Loup,  and Matt Dermody. This provides the Blue Jays with a bevvy of relief pitchers to fill in the front end of the bullpen.

Additionally, Fransisco Liriano was moved to the bullpen, ending the Blue Jays 6-man rotation for the time being. This move firmly leaves Aaron Sanchez in the rotation, and should add much needed strength and consistency to the struggling bullpen. Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna recorded his 30th save of the season on Sunday, becoming the youngest player to do so.

Final Takeaway:

The Blue Jays will need their pitching, both front end and back end, to keep the white hot Yankees and Red Sox honest. If the Blue Jays can get that, they could find success against some difficult foes.

Next: Red Sox hot on the trail in second place

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