Are the Orioles, not the Rays, the Blue Jays’ biggest roadblock in the AL East?

What does the ascension of the Baltimore Orioles to the powerhouse ranks mean to the Blue Jays?
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles / Rob Carr/GettyImages

On Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles took the final game of the four-game series against the once upon a time division-leading Tampa Bay Rays to take three out of a possible four games at Tropicana Field to move a full two games clear of the second-place Rays. The Orioles have won 12 of their last 15 games and have all of a sudden become a juggernaut in the AL East and appear to be the real deal.

This, of course, spells trouble for the Toronto Blue Jays, why?

If one would recall, the Orioles haven’t been anything of significance since they lost to the Jays in the AL Wild Card game back in 2016 when Edwin Encarnacion walked them off in extra innings for the victory. Since then, the Orioles had endured multiple mediocre seasons, finishing in last place for four of the following six seasons, and in fourth for the other two seasons.

With the presence of the powerhouses New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, the task had been daunting for the Jays to make the postseason year after year. Forget about even trying to win the division title, just trying to grab one of the Wild Card spots felt like trying to run a gauntlet to the finish each year. But at least they didn’t have to worry too much about the Orioles in the process and focus on just chasing down the Big Three…that is, until now.

The Rays had a blazing start to the 2023 season and appeared to all but run away with the division title already by May. However, the never-say-die up and coming Orioles kept on chipping away, clawing closer and closer each month, until finally surpassing them and becoming now the team to beat in the stretch run. The Orioles have slowly but steadily built their team from within in the past few years. With homegrown talent with the likes of Ryan Mountcastle, Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Cedric Mullins, Félix Bautista and others, they have grown and developed together, forming the solid core of the present team that has produced this year’s breakout season.

This reaction certainly sums up how it must feel to be an Orioles' fan this year.

With the Orioles now joining the elite ranks, the chances of the Jays making the playoffs this year and beyond has gotten that much tougher, because all five teams in the AL East now have the ability to produce an above .500 winning record throughout the season and could end up possibly having four of the teams make the playoffs while leaving one in the basement despite a winning record and out of the postseason.

Maybe it’s about time Major League Baseball should consider divisional realignment or at least switch a couple teams around; otherwise, the dreaded AL East division will eventually ensure that some good team each year will not make the playoffs, and if luck isn’t on their side, that team could end up being the Jays. In the meantime, it’s about time the Jays start winning some divisional games, starting with the Orioles when they meet at Rogers Centre at the end of the month, if they want any chance to make the postseason, and if lucky, the division title as well.