The Blue Jays have won five of their first seven games against the Red Sox so far this season, and that could be a huge advantage by the time the stretch run rolls around.
The Jays have started the season with a 13-7 record, which makes them one of the top teams across all of baseball, but still a half game behind the Yankees, who are 13-6 thus far. It’s a bit early to worry too much about the standings, but it’s a good reminder that regardless of how well the Blue Jays play this season, they’re going to have competition in the AL East.
For what it’s worth, here’s how the division standings look as of the end of play on Thursday night:
Yankees (13-6) —
Blue Jays (13-7) 0.5
Rays (11-8) 2.0
Red Sox (8-12) 5.5
Orioles (6-13) 7.0
As I said, there’s not a lot of sense in overreacting to the early standings, other than celebrating that the Blue Jays are off to a great start. That’s even more encouraging when you consider how many injuries they’ve had to navigate in the early going, including with Teoscar Hernandez, Danny Jansen, Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Cavan Biggio, and more.
What we can read a bit into is the fact that the Blue Jays have helped to put the Red Sox behind early in the regular season, as their head to head record now sits at 5-2. The Jays won two out of three in their first three-game series in Boston from Apr 19-21, and then won three out of four at home this week. Take those seven games away from the 8-12 Red Sox’s record and they’re 6-7 against teams not named the Blue Jays.
I know it’s ridiculously early, but these margins matter when you play in a division that is as competitive as the AL East. If you don’t believe me, look no further than to last season when the 91-win Blue Jays finished 4th (!) in their division, and missed the playoffs by one game. It’s rare that something like that happens, but it’s entirely possible when you share a division with the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox.
I suspect that when all is said and done, all four teams are going to be in the mix again when the postseason rolls around in 2022. The Blue Jays will set their sights on the division crown, but failing that they’ll want to secure a Wild Card spot, and even with an expanded 12-team playoff ahead this year it’s still going to be a competitive field. It should be a battle in the AL West between the Astros, Angels, and Mariners, and it feels like anything could happen in the Central (although I’ll concede that the White Sox should cruise to a division win).
The Blue Jays can’t control what the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, or any other AL contender do most of the time, but they can control the head to head results. Thus far the Jays are 5-2 against the Red Sox, and 2-2 against the Yankees, and have yet to see the Rays or Orioles. They’ll host the Yankees for a three-game set that begins on Monday as well, and hopefully the Jays can continue their run of avoiding a series loss.
At worst, April has given them an early advantage over a team like the Red Sox. When you consider that leapfrogging just one team from last year would make a significant difference in the standings, that’s something to be excited about from the opening month of the season.