Why the upcoming series against the Tampa Bay Rays will be critical for the Blue Jays
By Edward Eng
After losing an intense, heated series against the New York Yankees, along with a sweep by the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves stumbling their way into Tampa Bay for a crucial four-game series against the Rays. What better way to cure what’s ailing them than to take a make-or-break series against the top team in the league? The Rays currently sit in first place in the AL East division, 8.5 games ahead of the Jays, who have fallen all the way down to last place in the division after last week’s debacle.
Tropicana Field, the home of the Rays, has always been deemed a “house of horrors” for the Jays in the past, as they have a hideous record of 87-133 lifetime against the Rays in their own barn. Often in the past, even when they would appear to be well on their way to a win, things or events would take place and the Jays would end up with a loss. In addition, hot bats and pitching would suddenly go cold, and Jays fans practically had seen it all. To make matters worse, the Rays currently hold the best home record in all of baseball at 21-4. A series loss would be demoralizing for the Jays, especially after the miserable week they just experienced, and put them further down in the AL East basement, making the uphill climb that much tougher in the coming weeks.
However, this may actually be the perfect time for the Jays’ team to face their nemesis to eradicate their demons. After a torrid start to the season by the Rays, they have uncharacteristically lost seven of their last 12 games. So timing couldn’t have been any better for the Jays, as the Rays are definitely ripe for the picking at this moment. In addition, they were able to accomplish a similar feat in sweeping the NL-leading Atlanta Braves just two weekends ago, so it may seem improbable against the Rays, but it’s not impossible, as anything can happen.
More importantly, the Jays will have the right man to do the job on the mound in Chris Bassitt to begin the series, as he has shown time and time again throughout the season that he could provide the needed bounce back start for the team to get them back on their feet. Hopefully, he can set the tone for the rest of the series with a convincing start.
If the Jays can pull out at least two or more wins in this series, it should be deemed a huge success for the ballclub. A series win or even a sweep would even do wonders, as not only would it put them right back in the thick of things in the AL East, it would help them overcome the lacklustre, emotional week they just endured and get them back into their confident, feel good, winning mood in preparation to facing a string of division leading or playoff contending teams in the next two weeks.
Let’s hope the Jays can pull it off and begin their first step in the right direction as they claw their way back up the standings.