Blue Jays: Can the club keep the winning momentum on the road?
Since the Blue Jays returned to playing home games on Canadian soil, the club has been playing well and winning games, nine of their last eleven to be exact. They have also taken three series in a row against the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, and Boston Red Sox, sweeping the Royals before taking two of three against Cleveland and three of four against the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays have been getting production from all areas of the lineup, scoring 58 runs in those eleven games at the Rogers Centre as well as getting productive outings from a majority of the Blue Jays starting rotation (minus Hyun Jin Ryu’s rough outing yesterday).
Factor in that the front office made some moves at the deadline to bring in starter Jose Berrios along with relievers Brad Hand and Joakim Soria (alongside Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards, and Corey Dickerson who were acquired in early July) and the Jays certainly have momentum on their side after their most recent homestead.
The Toronto Blue Jays are coming off a great homestead since returning to the Rogers Centre, with the club looking to carry that momentum on their upcoming road trip to hopefully climb up the standings.
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Playing in front of home fans at the Rogers Centre for the first time in over 650 days is going to have a positive effect on the players, as they have had to jump between Dunedin and Buffalo with opposing fans sometimes outnumbering the Blue Jays fans in the stands. Having the crowd on your side will definitely help with the momentum, as a home run doesn’t get you booed and strikeouts no longer get applause from a rowdy Yankees fanbase when you are playing in Toronto.
Unfortunately, the Blue Jays cannot play the rest of their schedule in the confines of their home stadium and thus begin a nine-game road trip that will see them play the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Washington Nationals before returning back to Canada.
Los Angeles Angels – Four-game series
The Angels will be without superstar Mike Trout and All-Star Anthony Rendon and are currently playing .500 ball on the season. The Jays are scheduled to face two-way star Shohei Ohtani for Thursday’s game, the first time they will face him as a pitcher this season (currently sports a 2.93 ERA through 16 starts). Ohtani is also having a great season at the plate, slashing .269/.362/.653 on the season with an impressive 1.015 OPS and 37 home runs.
Los Angeles currently holds the edge in the season series, taking two games to one against the Blue Jays so far this year. It should be noted that on Tuesday, there will be a doubleheader due to a rained-out game earlier in the year, with the Blue Jays being the designated home team for the first game even though the contest is being played in LA.
Seattle Mariners – Three-game series
The Seattle Mariners are fighting for a playoff spot via the Wild Card similar to the Blue Jays, so this will be a pretty important series in that the Mariners will be looking to gain ground for playoff contention.
The probable pitcher’s schedule is not out yet but the Jays will most likely have to face Yusei Kikuchi, the Mariners top starting pitcher this season and one that has already beaten the club back on July 1st, limiting the Blue Jays to just one earned run over seven innings with six strikeouts. Similar to the Angels, the Mariners own a 2-1 record over the Jays this season.
For the Jays pitching staff, RF Mitch Haniger, 1B Ty France, and SS J.P. Crawford will be ones to keep an eye on as potential threats to put runs on the board.
Washington Nationals – Two-game series
Lastly is the Washington Nationals, a team that has undergone a lot of changes since the Blue Jays last faced them.
Gone from the team are RHP Max Scherzer, SS Trea Turner, C Yan Gomes, 2B Josh Harrison, LHP Jon Lester, RHP Daniel Hudson, LF Kyle Schwarber, INF Starlin Castro (suspended) and LHP Brad Hand (who is now with the Jays), forming a roster that has lost a significant amount of its firepower compared to the first time these two teams faced off. While there are no probable pitchers announced at the moment, if the current schedule was to not change, the Blue Jays will most likely be facing RHP Joe Ross and RHP Erick Fedde, missing newly acquired starter Josiah Gray.
With the Nationals in a rebuild mode of sorts, this series could be two easy games to add to the win column but the pitching corps will have to deal with Juan Soto this time around, as he was on the injured list the first time these two clubs faced each other earlier this year. The series is split one game apiece between these two clubs.
Overall, the upcoming schedule does present a bit of a challenge in that no series is a guaranteed slam dunk but these are teams that the Blue Jays do have the ability to beat given their batting order and new and improved starting rotation and bullpen.
The club sports a 29-26 record on the road this season, so they do have the ability to win games when they are not the home team but this time around, they will go on the road not only on a hot streak but also with confidence after a week that saw them play in front of rowdy but friendly crowds and battle hard to win recent games.
They will look to carry the momentum from playing at the Rogers Centre on the road and hopefully continue to win games and try to climb up the AL East division standings, potentially finding themselves in a Wild Card spot before they return home to face the Detroit Tigers on August 20th.