Blue Jays: A crucial 13-game stretch before the schedule finally gets easier

May 9, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (10) slaps the helmet of Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) during the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 9, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (10) slaps the helmet of Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) during the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Overall the Blue Jays record of 29-25 is a solid start to the year, but the next 13 games could go a long way in defining the rest of the 2021 season.

That’s because they’re now facing a very tough stretch in their schedule that quite frankly hasn’t been very kind to them in the early going. They actually rank as having had the most difficult schedule in baseball so far according to teamrankings.com, and it won’t get any easier over the next two weeks.

After an off-day on Thursday they’ll open a three-game set at home in Buffalo against the Houston Astros. The Astros are 31-25 on the season thus far, and despite entering last night one game behind the Oakland A’s for first place in the AL West, many projections still have them as the favourite for the division crown. They’re missing a few key figures like Justin Verlander, and of course George Springer from previous successful seasons, but this is still a talented veteran group that knows how to compete.

Once the weekend is over the Blue Jays won’t get a break at all, as they’ll travel to Chicago to square off against the White Sox. There were many folks who thought the Sox would take a big step back after the significant injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert (myself included), but they’re finding a way to set the pace in the Central at 33-22.

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From there the Jays will head to Fenway Park in Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox. The BoSox are always a tough opponent, but there’s another layer of difficulty when guys like J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and more get to hit on their home turf. They have cooled off since their torrid start in April and have fallen behind the Rays at the top of the East standings, but they’re still a dangerous and talented group.

Finally, to finish off this rough 13-game stretch will be hosting the Yankees for a three-game series. It’s unfortunate that the two division rivals aren’t lining up right now, as the Yankees have been struggling lately. Hopefully the next ten days won’t give them the opportunity to get rolling again, because at their best the Yankees are undoubtedly one of the better teams in baseball.

The good news is after this tough stretch the Blue Jays will eventually get a bit of a break. Starting on June 18 they’ll finally get their first chance to play the Orioles this season, and the two teams will play seven times in 10 days, broken up by a quick two-game series with the Marlins in Miami, who the Jays just swept at home over two. After those nine games they’ll see the Mariners for three games, and that will close out their June schedule.

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The Blue Jays haven’t had the easiest of conditions to overcome so far this year, and yet they’ve managed to find a way to stay four games above .500. If they can come through the next 13 games and still be on the right side of .500, it’ll be exciting to see what they can do once they finally get some weaker competition.

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