With a Blue Jays win and a Red Sox loss on Sunday, the Jays are 5.5 back of the 2nd Wild Card spot. If they’re going to catch up, they have to make up some ground this week.
I feel like I’ve said that a few times already this season, but this time I don’t know that there will be any coming back from a disappointment while hosting the Orioles. This is a team that’s coming off of a very recent 19 game losing streak, and they’re just 2-23 over their last 25. They won those two games in back to back fashion and then dropped three straight to the Rays. The Orioles are as vulnerable as any opponent they’re going to find, and the Blue Jays need to take advantage.
Not only is it a great opportunity to pick up a three-game sweep, it coincides at a good time with some of their Wild Card competition. The best part is that the Red Sox are about to start a 4-game series on the road against the red-hot Rays who have won their last seven in a row and 11 of their last 12. In a perfect world for the Blue Jays, the Rays would sweep the Red Sox for four straight games. From there the Red Sox will play Cleveland for three and then host the Rays on the back half of a home and home three-game set. After that they’ll hit the road for three each against the White Sox and Mariners, so they’ll be in tough over the next little while.
The Red Sox are the most important team that the Blue Jays need to keep an eye on right now, but obviously they’re not the only ones to monitor. The Jays are still 1.0 game behind the Mariners and 3.0 behind the A’s, who both won their games on Sunday.
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Looking at Oakland’s schedule, they just finished a tough stretch against the White Sox (4 games), Giants (3), Mariners (2), and Yankees (4), and they’ll get a bit of a reprieve with an off day on Monday followed by three games against the Tigers. After that they’ll have to play the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, and then get three more against the White Sox. The A’s feel as vulnerable now as they have all season.
Last in this Wild Card equation are the Mariners, who somehow keep hanging around in the postseason race. That said, they’re going to have a pretty significant challenge to start the week at home for a three game series with the Astros. Once they’re through with that they’ll hit the road for three games in Arizona, followed by another three games against the Astros, but this time it’ll take place in Houston. Sitting 4.5 games behind the 2nd Wild Card spot, those six games against the Astros will likely define their chances for the rest of the way.
Getting back to the Blue Jays, with their fellow Wild Card challengers having some pretty tough games ahead, they’ll really need to take care of business against the Orioles. They’ll also have a chance to define their own destiny when they play the A’s, which could be an opportunity to move ahead of one of the teams they’ll trailing. This is all easier said than done of course, but the pitching staff has been performing extremely well lately, and it looks like they may get George Springer back on the active roster this week.
With just 33 games left on the Blue Jays schedule there is very little room for error. Picking up a game on the Red Sox on Sunday was huge though, and if they’re going to chip away at the deficit then it has to continue on Monday night.