Blue Jays: Now realistic, an important new goal to set
Now that the Blue Jays have climbed back into a playoff position, this team can set some new goals for the rest of the regular season.
A few weeks ago the mere idea of making the playoffs seemed all but out of reach, but after an incredible run that’s seen the Blue Jays win 15 of their last 17 games, they find themselves at the top of the Wild Card standings. After Monday night’s series-opening win against the Rays, the Blue Jays hold a 1.0 game lead over BOTH the Yankees and the Red Sox and now stand alone in the first spot. It seemed all but impossible that they could catch the second Wild Card spot, let alone come away with the first.
The important distinction between the two is that the first place Wild Card team gets to host the one-game playoff to quality for the division series. Riding a historic hot streak, the Blue Jays now need to set their sights on being the home team for that crucial game and bringing playoff baseball back to the Rogers Centre even in a worst case scenario of a single game.
With 18 regular season games left it’s not going to be an easy task. Despite handily beating Tampa Bay on Monday they still have five more games with the Rays, and a win likely won come that easily again. The Rays have been the class of the AL East for nearly the entire 2021 campaign, and right now they hold the best record in the American League. That also means that the winner of the Wild Card game would be slated to play the Rays in the LDS.
That fate is likely unavoidable, which is why beating up on the Rays right now would be an added bonus as the Blue Jays seek to earn a postseason berth. However, there’s a lot of work to be done to get there before they can worry about Tampa Bay in the LDS, including focusing on playing them this week and next.
As difficult as those games with the Rays could turn out to be, the Blue Jays have the good fortune of having several winnable games remaining. After they finish up with Tampa Bay on Wednesday they’ll host the Twins for three more at the Rogers Centre, and then play them for four games in Minnesota beginning on September 23. The Jays also finish their regular season schedule with three against the team they just laid a historic beating on in the Orioles, and they have three more with the Yankees that could allow them to seal their own destiny.
It’s taken this kind of incredible run for the Blue Jays to get them back in this position, but they’ve also received a lot of help from both the Yankees and the Red Sox. If they can carry this kind of momentum through the rest of the regular season schedule, the Jays may just get to host a playoff game after all. For a fan base that had to go without their team for nearly two years, that would be a welcome reward in the city of Toronto, and a huge boost to this young team. At this point it’s right there for the taking.