The 2023 Blue Jays are doing exactly what they need to in order to win games
The 2023 Toronto Blue Jays came into the season looking like a much different team than the one that blew an 8-1 lead in the Wild Card Series last October. New additions such as Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho have helped change the way the Jays play. During the spring manager John Schneider has preached about the team needing to play the right way and they have finally begun to do just that.
In Schneider's first full season as the Blue Jays manager he has made a big impact when it comes to trying to get the Jays to play the right way. Wednesday night’s narrow 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers specifically highlighted a showcase of these new skills. Two deep fly balls by Whit Merrifield and Alejandro Kirk allowing runners to advance to tie the game is just a starting point for the new look Jays.
To start the season, the team has been consistent on the idea of “passing the baton” to the next person in the lineup and these plays in the ninth inning showed exactly that. Last season’s team would have been swinging for the fences, looking for the big play, but this year’s squad has some new ideas. The style of play they have shown thus far proves they can grind just about any team down to the ground.
Maybe the most important part to the Jays new gritty style is their newfound ability to bunt. In Kansas City, Varsho started off the trend with a crucial drag bunt single. Wednesday night, the Jays saw a different style of bunt. Kiermaier’s sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning to advance Danny Jansen from second base to third made was a vital play for the Jays to finish off the already beaten down Tigers.
So far this season, the Jays have six comeback wins. This only happens with grit and determination, something they struggled with much of last season. On Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, down 6-0 in the sixth inning, the Jays never quit, ultimately leading to their best win of the season. A grand slam by Matt Chapman helped, but it wasn’t the long ball that clawed them all the way back to win 12-11. Veteran leadership from players like Kiermaier and Brandon Belt have helped the team stay more composed. These long-term veterans who are proven winners have begun to show the young stars a different way to win.
What if last season’s team possessed some of these skills? How far would they have gone? Those are answers we’ll never know, but all fans should think about is how gritty this team has become. During the dog days of summer when teams are wearing down, the Jays will be coming. A team of young stars has gotten a year older and a year smarter. Like Bo Bichette said “you have to learn to lose together before you can win”. If the Jays continue doing the right things on the field, the results they want will eventually come.