Just like that, with the 2-0 win, the Minnesota Twins officially put an end to the Toronto Blue Jays’ misery and 2023 season with a sweep of the AL Wild Card Series. In doing so, it now extends their playoff winless streak to seven games dating back to 2016. This year’s whole postseason experience has turned out to be a brutal summary of what the 2023 Blue Jays’ season has been in a nutshell.
Coming into the series, there were quite a few people that weren’t too optimistic of the Jays’ offence facing off against a strong Twins’ pitching staff. So whenever the opportunity presents itself, they must take full advantage of it to prevail.
Well, as many would have guessed, the Jays once again struggled with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-14 with a whopping 18 runners left on base over the course of the two games. Time after time, they would fail to come through in the clutch, as critical rallies would get snuffed out by the strikeout or double play.
Game Two in particular was the worst of it all. The Jays would get runners on in each of the first three innings, putting Twins’ starter Sonny Gray on the ropes, only to come away empty-handed.
If that wasn’t bad enough, with José Berríos seemingly coasting along with a strong start for the Jays after three scoreless innings, manager John Schneider (doing what he had been doing all season long) would do the impossible by removing him from the game in the 4th inning after a hard-earned walk by Twins’ designated hitter Royce Lewis. If people thought Kevin Cash’s removal of Blake Snell from Game Six of the 2020 World Series was horrifically bad, this one definitely tops it.
What happened next could be predicted by everyone as after Yusei Kikuchi was brought into the game, the Jays would quickly yield two runs to the Twins, giving the home team all the momentum the rest of the way.
But just in case that wasn’t enough to help the Twins, the Jays’ atrocious baserunning blunders all season showed up just in time again for the playoffs. With runners on second and third and a chance to tie the game in the 5th inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would commit the greatest sin of all, as he ended up getting picked off by Gray at second base.
Just to put the nail in the coffin, the Jays had once last chance in the top of the 7th inning, with the bases loaded and only one out, Matt Chapman was at the dish with a chance to change the Jays’ fortunes once and for all. Unfortunately, in a game of inches, instead of a game-tying or go-ahead double, he would ground into an inning-ending double play.
Obviously at that point, with the whole team practically defeated, the Jays had no chance against the Twins’ shutdown bullpen as they went quickly and quietly to end the game.
The Jays sure brought lots of joy, excitement, and emotions throughout the 2023 season, but the way they went down in the 2023 playoffs will definitely sting for quite a while. As they head into the offseason, there will be many questions left to be answered, both at the players’ level and management level. Hopefully, they will eventually be able to figure things out, but unfortunately with another season wasted, we will have to once again patiently wait for the 2024 season for bigger and better things. But for the 2023 season, we are only left with the disheartening thought of “what if?”