The Blue Jays stormed back to a 10-9 victory after being down 8-3 to the Yankees on Sunday, and it wasn’t just an ordinary win.
After having dropped the first two games of their home series with the team they’re trying to catch in the AL East, the Blue Jays were 12.0 games behind the Yankees for first place coming into Sunday’s series finale. They’re still in 3rd place overall in the American League, but the Yankees have really been separating themselves from the pack at this early stage, and Friday and Saturday’s games did nothing to change the narrative.
After Yusei Kikuchi struggled with his command and was lifted early, the Blue Jays eventually found themselves down by a score of 8-3 and in serious danger of being swept. Instead, one inning may have shifted the momentum for this talented young team, and a pair of big swings stunned the Yankees and sent the home crowd at the Rogers Centre into a frenzy. First it was Lourdes Gurriel Jr’s grand slam in the sixth inning, which was followed up by a mammoth blast from Teoscar Hernandez in the seventh to give the Blue Jays the lead.
The victory doesn’t make a major impact in the standings, as the Blue Jays are now 11.0 games behind the Yankees instead of 13.0. However, the difference that Sunday’s win could make for the Blue Jays is significant, especially as they head out on the road on Monday. You could argue that they’re in for an important stretch of games coming up as well. They have a chance to further the White Sox’s problems this season in Chicago, and then hopefully can take advantage of a Brewers’ roster that isn’t 100% healthy, especially in the rotation. After that they’ll square off against the Red Sox and Rays when they return home to close out the month, and those seven games could be extremely important in the standings. Being able to escape with a victory on Sunday was a positive momentum shift that they badly needed.
Most importantly, the Blue Jays didn’t just roll over and let the Yankees leave Toronto with the feeling that they’re invincible. They’ve still certainly had the Blue Jays’ number overall so far this year, but Sunday’s comeback was a good reminder for the Yankees that the Blue Jays are a force to be reckoned with when they’re on. They’ve got some holes on the roster, and some areas that they’d be well served to address ahead of the trade deadline, but the core of this Blue Jays group should allow them to compete in the AL East both in 2022 and for several years to come.
We could focus on another rough outing for Kikuchi, or the continued issues for the bullpen, but instead I think the Blue Jays need to focus on the high note that they finished the series on. Instead of rolling over and taking the sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Blue Jays showed that there’s plenty of fight left in the dog.
With 96 games left in the regular season, a win like this could be exactly the kind of momentum shift that the Blue Jays need.