The Toronto Blue Jays wrapped up an exhilarating three-game set with the New York Yankees, and have six games remaining on the regular season schedule. There were a lot of perspectives and notes from this series, so let’s get right into it.
Monday was busier than usual in the core of downtown Toronto, flooded by a sea of blue, with a slight mix of pinstripe white, road New York grey, and spitting rain. The New York Yankees were in town, giving Toronto a real feel of September baseball.
Blue Jays fans may experience flashbacks of last year’s Blue Jays-Yankees September matchups, where playoff implications were present. This time around, Toronto had just slipped into a “point of no return” position, as numerically the American League East chase was close to impossible. Weeks before this, the Blue Jays were a car length away from the Yankees in the division, smelling the fumes of hope. Regardless of the divisional circumstances, each game until the completion of 162 is crucial.
Blue Jays drop the Yankees series 1-2 but obtain a crucial test run before the start of the postseason
Firstly, congratulations to Aaron Judge on making history, hitting number 61 at the Rogers Centre. Aside from the anticipation for this historical moment, the New York Yankees were in “The Six” to take care of business. In fact, most Yankees fans I spoke to on Tuesday night’s contest were more concerned about winning the division, than the homerun. The Yankees did exactly that, locking up the AL East. This leaves the Blue Jays with the Wild Card as their shot in the postseason, which they secured after Baltimore lost last night.
Let’s start with Kevin Gausman, who was absolutely stellar in his outing on Monday, going 6.1 innings, two earned runs and striking out seven hitters. Gausman was in a groove, working the zone, working effectively with his off-speed pitches, and challenging Aaron Judge in each at-bat. Toronto fought back to get the one-run win in extras, despite leaving 19 runners on base.
Tuesday’s game was sloppy, plain and simple; base running mishaps to being thrown out from star-gazing at long doubles. Jose Berrios went 5.1 giving up five earned runs despite striking out seven. Judge walked four times, which translated to two of the five runs scored by the Yankees; talk about karma! The Yankees stranded 22 runners in this game and still came out with the win, and the division title, followed by the series win in an 8-3 victory on Wednesday. A positive take from this game was the ability to pitch around Judge and still challenge the count, giving 2-strike settings, despite the bases-on-balls. This is a hitter you’d intentionally walk in any game if circumstances prevailed when beneficial.
Despite the series loss, the Blue Jays were exposed to an almost-fully healthy Yankees lineup and pitching staff, with the return of Giancarlo Stanton and Luis Severino; a staff that’s complimented by top arms such as Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, and Jameson Taillon. Some things to consider for the Blue Jays moving forward into the Wild Card competition are errors (specifically the ones that allow unearned runs), heads-up base running, lack of small-ball tendencies, and the role of Mitch White, who only lasted 3.2 innings on Wednesday.
Overall, this series was crucial, with the possibility of these two teams matching up in the playoffs should the Jays advance out of the Wild Card and out of the ALDS (depending on where they finish).