Blue Jays: We’re witnessing the potential we knew was possible
All season long it’s felt like the Blue Jays hadn’t really scratched the surface of their potential, but now the talented squad is finally starting to truly click.
I was thrilled to see the Blue Jays absolutely annihilate the Orioles over the weekend after dropping the series opener on Friday. At times the Jays have struggled to take care of business against the teams they should be beating, and that certainly wasn’t the case against Baltimore when they scored 44 runs over three games, with two of them of the shorter 7-inning variety. 44 runs over just 23 innings is a good day of putting up video game stats, and this team pulled it off in reality.
Despite all of that, you typically can’t read too much into beating up on the Orioles even if it was an absolute schooling. However, coming off the heels of sweeping the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees over seven games, and winning 14 of their last 16 games, it was everything you hoped to see from the Jays as they enter the stretch run of the playoff race. They had a one-game hiccup, but the momentum they built against the A’s and Yankees is still very much alive.
After Sunday’s big win the Blue Jays are now tied with the Red Sox for the first Wild Card position, and are ahead of the Yankees by a full game. Two weeks ago it didn’t seem possible that the Jays could catch up for the first Wild Card position, but their incredible run has come at the same time as a collapse from the New York Yankees, and all kinds of problems for the Red Sox as well.
After their 11-run 7th inning during the second game of Saturday’s double-header, Teoscar Hernandez was interviewed by Sportnet’s Hazel Mae afterward, and was asked what he thinks the difference is for this red-hot team, and why the Jays are on such an amazing run. Hernandez’s answer was pretty simple, stating that the roster was finally healthy outside of a banged up George Springer who is still managing to stay in the lineup.
It a lot of ways it really is that simple, although what makes things even better is just how many players are getting hot at the same time. Over his last 15 games Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting .387/.441/.774 with eight home runs and 11 RBI. Marcus Semien has slashed .300/.407/.700 with seven home runs and 17 RBI over that same period, and Teoscar Hernandez has posted a .321/.433/.661 with 5 HR and 18 RBI. Bo Bichette has definitely been in the middle of things as well with a .383/.439/.583 line with three HR and eight RBI, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is performing as well as he has all season with a .392/.500/.824 line that includes five HR and 24 RBI. I could go on and talk about Alejandro Kirk, and even Danny Jansen’s solid hitting since he returned from the Injured List, but I’m sure you get the point. This team is on fire right now in the batter’s box, and they’re getting contributions from pretty much everyone.
The pitching staff has had a few rough games in the midst of some recent slugfests, but in all the Blue Jays have to be thrilled with how much that area has improved. There is the odd hiccup here and there, such as Hyun Jin Ryu’s stinker against the Orioles on Saturday, but for the most part the Jays are receiving quality outings from their rotation, and also from the bullpen.
As I’ve looked at the roster throughout the 2021 season, it always made me shake my head that the Blue Jays had so much talent, and yet were on the outside of the playoff picture. Now that things are clicking for the group as a whole, they make for an extremely difficult team to beat, and one that can determine their own playoff destiny over the last 19 games. Most of us believed that the talent was there all along, and it’s a lot of fun to see it all finally coming together.