THE MARINERS HAVE SENT THE BLUE JAYS TO THE PLAYOFFS!
Entering Saturday, the Toronto Blue Jays needed one of two things; they needed to win their game against the Rays, or they needed the Rangers to defeat the Mariners over in Seattle. While the Jays played nice and early, the TEX-SEA game did not begin until 7pm ET, so it took a while for the final results to come in.
Thanks to a 6-1 loss to the Rangers, the Mariners have sent both the Rangers and the Blue Jays to the promised land and helped them both clinch a spot in the 2023 MLB playoffs.
In Toronto, starter Hyun Jin Ryu did not look like himself, going just three innings while allowing two runs on seven base hits. The Jays had to piece together the rest of the game, one that went 10 innings, and wound up using Trevor Richards, Génesis Cabrera, Erik Swanson, Yimi García, Jordan Romano and Jordan Hicks. Things went pretty smoothly until Hicks was asked to go two innings, which ended up leading to the Jays' downfall.
In his two innings of work, Hicks surrendered two earned runs on three hits with a pair of walks as well. He took the loss in this one, his ninth of the year.
Offensively, the Blue Jays were vastly out-hit by the Rays. Toronto ended the game with seven hits while Tampa had 14. In the end, the Jays just could not get it going at the plate and had to leave their playoff hopes up to another game.
Over in Seattle, the Luis Castillo (SEA)-Andrew Heaney (TEX) matchup felt extremely lopsided to kick things off. With the former being an ace-caliber arm and the latter largely being an unreliable one, it felt like the Mariners were once again in position to win and make the Blue Jays wait another day to secure their postseason berth. Bases loaded walks, a three-RBI showing by Jonah Heim and Marcus Semien driving in his 100th run of the year led the Rangers to a rather easy victory.
At many points throughout the year, this Blue Jays club did not look like one destined for the postseason. In fact, cold stretches by most of the team's biggest bats and the complete disappearance of staff ace Alek Manoah had this season feeling like a lost cause fairly early on.
A lineup consisting of some considerable star power ultimately did not produce a single player hitting over 26 home runs (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) this year. Obviously there is still one game left, but it feels unlikely that Guerrero will hit four home runs on Sunday. George Springer (21) is probably not going to hit nine home runs on Sunday either; while Bo Bichette and Daulton Varsho (20) most likely won't hit 10 home runs in one day either. At the end of the day, having zero players hit 30 big flies or reach 100 RBI is a bit concerning.
As of right now, the Jays are lined up to take on the Rays in the Wild Card Series. Since the club did not officially clinch the second Wild Card spot (yet), it will be a best-of-three series at Tropicana Field instead of a series in Minnesota to take on the Twins, who secured the top spot in the American League Central.