The Toronto Blue Jays are back in a playoff spot!
Wait … what?
Three days ago, the Jays were finished, dead and buried, after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers – one which included two of the most humiliating thrashings in modern franchise history to close the series, punctuated by fans booing the team off the field at the end of each game.
Not so fast. Thanks to a wild 13-inning win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, combined with a Mariners loss later in the night, the Blue Jays wake up Sunday morning once again in possession of the third Wild Card spot, half a game ahead of Seattle. In fact, with the Rangers also losing, the Jays are only a half game back of the second Wild Card spot.
Even in a season full of stomach-churning ups and downs, the last few days have been something unique.
Fittingly, the victory that put the Jays back in a playoff spot was just about as stereotypically ‘2023 Blue Jays’ as you can get.
The pitching was spectacular (again) – first Chris Bassitt with 7 IP 2 ER on 110 pitches, and then, six innings of one-hit ball from Mayza, Swanson, Romano, Hicks, and Green – no surprise from perhaps the best pitching staff in franchise history.
The defense too was characteristically magnificent, highlighted by elite catches from Kiermaier in center and Springer in right, and a vintage Guerrero Jr. over-the-shoulder catch down the first base line.
At the same time, the bats, once again, were a catastrophe.
The Jays were no-hit through 4 2/3, and shut out until the seventh, when Guerrero went deep for the third game in a row. Then, between the 7th-13th innings, they went an astonishing 2-15 with runners in scoring position – with one of the hits an infield single which didn’t score a run, and the other, a misplayed ball in center field – failing to cash men from second or third (or both) in every single inning.
That is, until Whit Merrifield managed a 50-foot dribbler with two outs in the bottom of the 13th, scoring Vladdy from third with a walk-off infield hit.
Ok, so it’s not exactly a bat flip home run, but at this point, as lead broadcaster Dan Shulman put it moments after Merrifield’s foot came down on first base, “style points don’t matter.”
Indeed they don’t, and from the depths of despair against the Rangers, the Jays are miraculously back in the mix. In fact, in just over 48 hours, the Jays’ playoff odds went from 33.6% to 65.3%.
A few days ago, I asked the question here at Jays Journal – is this the least enjoyable Blue Jays season ever … or the most enjoyable? Whichever way you see it, one thing is for sure: for a few more days at least, the roller coaster ride that is the 2023 Blue Jays continues.
Connect with me and talk about all the triumph and heartbreak down the stretch on the platform formerly known as Twitter – @WriteFieldDeep.