Jays Journal wraps up the end of the season with an overall look at the Blue Jays and how the rest of the AL East ended.
Boston Red Sox: 93-69
The Red Sox did what they set out to do, and they’ll hunt for October glory for the first time since their World Series win in 2013. It was a long road for the Red Sox, who spent most of the season second in the division, but as the Red Sox entered the stretch they kicked into high gear. They will face the Indians in Cleveland in the ALDS.
David Ortiz played his final regular season home game last night. Despite not coming up with a clutch hit late, Big Papi capped his career with great numbers across the board. His veteran presence and the emergence of young stars like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts have made the Sox a force to be reckoned with.
Toronto Blue Jays: 89-73
The Blue Jays are back in October for a second season in a row. Like anything the Blue Jays have done, their final week of play was nothing shy of crazy. The Blue Jays looked worse for the wear all September, losing hold of the division lead and even slipping out of Wild Card contention. Injuries to starter Marco Estrada (herniated disc) and now to veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit (torn calf muscle) all made matters worse. But the writing was not on the wall and the Blue Jays won a weekend series against the division champions to secure a spot in the Wild Card Game with home field advantage.
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Toronto will take on an Orioles team they have been pretty evenly matched with. It will be a true battle on Tuesday, but that’s to be expected when 60 percent of the American League playoff teams are from the East. The Blue Jays have roster flexibility and a strong rotation that looks to shaping up. If the Jays can secure the win Tuesday it’ll make for an exciting and dramatic rematch with the Texas Rangers, but whatever happens, the Blue Jays know one thing: Aaron Sanchez won’t see the bullpen anytime soon.
Baltimore Orioles: 89-73
The Baltimore Orioles are heading to the playoffs. Despite falling out of favour early on in the fall, the O’s got things back on track and slid comfortably into the playoffs. A win from the Blue Jays means that they’ll not get the advantage of playing at Camden Yards. The Orioles season can be summed into three parts. The first part of the season, and heading into the All Star Game, they were the champions of the East and one of the best teams in baseball. After the break, new additions and a resurgence from the Blue Jays brought added pressure from Toronto and Boston, too much for them to hold onto. Finally, the Orioles took advantage of a stumbling Jays team and the Tigers to put things back into place.
The Orioles have a strong team that will make up the core of their organization for some time. Veteran sluggers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo and young phenom Manny Machado can power Baltimore past any opponent this October. If they can dispatch the Jays one last time, they will face the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.
New York Yankees: 84-78
The Yankees looked very strong out of the gate, but things began to unravel from there. As New York dealt with multiple injuries and their patchwork rotation began to unravel, they sold big at the deadline. Like a phoenix from the ashes a newer, younger Yankees emerged onto the scene and forced the question, could the Yankees contend? While yes, they could, New York stumbled late in their Wild Card push and ultimately missed out.
We have not seen the last of the Baby Bombers. They will be back int he mix from day one next year and will no doubt be hungry for more. We did see the last of a few familiar faces. Alex Rodriguez stepped into an administrative roll in August ending his 22-year career. Thirteen-year veteran Mark Teixeira also said goodbye yesterday as he begins his announced retirement. The Yankees we see next year will be like no Yankees team we’ve seen in recent years.
Tampa Bay Rays: 68-94
What began as a hopeful season for a retooled Rays quickly took a turn for the worst. By the time the All Star game ended it was clear that the Rays were down for the count. Yet, the Rays were shrewd sellers, and didn’t go crazy at the trade deadline. Tampa recognized that the talent was there, they just needed some work. The Rays’ main struggle came from a late-blooming rotation, which was something they hadn’t planned on.
The Rays spent the off season bulking up their offence to help out their stellar rotation. By season’s end, though, it was still the rotation that had struggled the most. The Rays will need to continue to develop their young star pitchers as well as make a few solid offensive additions this winter. What they will need most is for them all to be clicking at the same time.