The Toronto Blue Jays missed a gift-wrapped opportunity to gain ground on Boston and New York in the American League Wild Card race Tuesday night. The Baltimore Orioles took care of business at Camden Yards, beating the Red Sox 4-2 behind a combined three-hitter from four pitchers, and the 32nd home run from Rookie of the Year candidate 1B Ryan Mountcastle. It was Boston’s fourth consecutive loss.
If the Jays players were scoreboard watching, they would have known this around 9:45pm which was around the sixth inning in their game against the Yankees at Rogers Centre when they were down 3-2. A Jays win Tuesday would have tied them with the Red Sox at 88-69.
However, five Yankees pitchers combined on a three-hitter to hold the Jays offense to only two runs, and home runs by Yankee sluggers RF Aaron Judge, DH Giancarlo Stanton and former Blue Jay SS Gio Urshela powered New York to a 7-2 win. It was their seventh consecutive win.
The Stanton blow was particularly disheartening for the 28,769 fans in attendance after seating capacity was doubled to 30,000 before the start of the series. He literally golfed an 84.5 mph changeup from RHP Trevor Richards at his shins for a 428 foot home run at an exit velocity of 107 mph.
Missed Opportunity to Gain Ground in the Wild Card Race
With the results, the Jays stay a game behind Boston in the standings at 87-70, but fall three full games back of the New York at 90-67, with only two games left to play head-to-head this season.
For such a big game with playoff implications, the Blue Jays offence was anemic against Yankee starter Jameson Taillon and five relievers. The top six hitters in the lineup combined to go 2-20 (.100) and the big bats of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., were all hitless.
Four Positive Take-Aways
* SS Bo Bichette came to play, going 2 for 4 with his 24th stolen base, a run scored and an RBI.
* LF Corey Dickerson hit a nice RBI double off RHP Michael King and had a hard hit fly ball out off Yankee starter Jameson Taillon.
* Despite losing his 10th game, it was also positive that starter LHP Hyun Jin Ryu did not look rusty in his 4.1 innings after being activated from the 10-day IL (neck tightness) ahead of the game. But with only five contests left, that likely means he’ll only make one more start on the last day off the regular season.
* The crowd, announced at 28,769 was into the game early. Capacity was doubled ahead of this series and it felt much more like a playoff game atmosphere despite the loss.
The Blue Jays will effectively now have to win out their remaining two games against New York behind starters Jose Berríos (vs. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole) and Robbie Ray (vs. Corey Kluber) this week, and their final three game series against Baltimore, and then hope for some help from the Tampa Rays who travel to the Bronx to face New York on the final weekend of the season if they have any hope of catching the Yankees for a Wild Card spot.
Boston plays two more in Baltimore against the 51-106 Orioles, then three games against the 65-92 Washington Nationals. However, without any head-to-head games left, the Jays can only hope Boston keeps losing. Any combination of Boston wins and Blue Jay losses totalling five eliminates the Blue Jays from Wild Card contention.
Pending the late outcome of the Seattle home game against the Oakland Athletics, the Blue Jays could even fall a half a game behind the Mariners, a team that entered competition Tuesday with a run differential of -52. Seattle was 8-2 in their past ten games going in to last night’s contest.
The Jays playoff odds are now down around 20%. It’s time for the Baseball gods to intervene and smile upon the Jays once more for the next five games. Otherwise, we’ll be asking what could have been as soon as this weekend. Let’s go Blue Jays!