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AL wild-card race — Blue Jays strengthen their case with a vital win over Yankees

It is a bit of melodramatic to recommend the Toronto Blue Jays‘ season was on the road Wednesday night time towards the New York Yankees, however it’s not precisely incorrect.

With the Boston Red Sox closing out a 6-0 victory over the hapless Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays have been tied 5-5 within the eighth inning, having blown an early 4-Zero lead towards Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. They have been in peril of falling 4 video games behind the Yankees and, extra importantly, two video games behind the Crimson Sox for the second wild card, with simply 4 video games remaining.

Up stepped Bo Bichette main off the underside of the eighth towards Yankees reliever Clay Holmes, who is not a family identify — comprehensible given he pitched the primary 4 months of the season with the Pirates — however has been crushing hitters of late. He came visiting in a deal on the commerce deadline that no one paid consideration to and has been near unhittable since becoming a member of the Yankees, with only one extra-base hit allowed in 25 innings.

Bichette is without doubt one of the rising younger stars for the Blue Jays, however has performed within the shadow of MVP candidates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien. He had already homered off Cole within the third inning, and after taking a 96-mph sinker low for ball one, he drove a 94-mph sinker on the insider nook to right-center, simply clearing the scoreboard for the 6-5 lead — an unimaginable show of bat velocity to drive that pitch to the alternative subject. Bichette exploded across the basepaths, slapping his chest and elevating his arm as he rounded third base and finally obtained a curtain name from the Blue Jays’ followers. Jordan Romano closed it out for his 22nd consecutive transformed save, and the Blue Jays remained one sport behind the Crimson Sox and moved two video games behind the Yankees. They’re very a lot nonetheless alive.

I feel most hardcore baseball followers who do not root for the Yankees or Crimson Sox would favor to see the Blue Jays within the playoffs. TV executives, not a lot. It is not simply that we have seen the Yankees and Crimson Sox within the postseason a lot over the a long time — and the Crimson Sox simply gained all of it three years in the past. It is merely that the Blue Jays are enjoyable, imposing and, frankly, can be the extra entertaining group to look at in October.

They’ve Guerrero. They’ve Semien, who notched his 44th residence run with a first-inning blast off Cole, to set the single-season file for residence runs by a main second baseman, breaking Davey Johnson’s file of 43 for the 1973 Braves. They’ve Bichette, who’s hitting .295 with 28 residence runs and 101 RBIs, which means he and Semien turned the primary second base/shortstop mixture with 100 RBIs in the identical season since Bobby Doerr and Vern Stephens of the 1950 Crimson Sox. They’ve George Springer and the joyful Teoscar Hernandez. They’ve the seemingly Cy Younger winner now in Robbie Ray (Cole’s second unhealthy begin in three outings all however wraps it up for Ray). They’ve the house run jacket, adorned on the again with logos of all of the international locations represented on the group’s multicultural roster and awarded within the dugout after every residence run. They’ve Romano, the nearer who’s straight out of the 1980s together with his moustache. They’ve these child blue uniforms they wore on Wednesday, one other relic of the ’80s.

After all, the Blue Jays nonetheless need assistance — they’ve another sport towards the Yankees after which end with three at residence versus the Orioles. The Crimson Sox get the sequence finale towards the Orioles after which three towards the woeful Washington Nationals. The Yankees end with the Tampa Bay Rays. Little question, Blue Jays followers are gazing run differential numbers and questioning why they have not already clinched a playoff spot.

How did they get right here? It is not that they’ve a poor file in one-run video games. They’re now 15-15, having performed the fewest one-run video games within the majors. Different good groups have mediocre information in one-run video games as nicely: The White Sox are 17-24, the Rays 19-23, the Astros 19-19 and the Dodgers 24-24.

The Jays have had essentially the most high-scoring video games, scoring 10 or extra runs 21 occasions, most within the majors, and scoring a whopping 250 runs in these 21 video games, a median of 11.9 per sport. They’ve gained 18 video games by eight or extra runs, most within the majors. In contrast, the Crimson Sox have simply eight such wins and the Yankees six. However, they’ve scored two runs or fewer 40 occasions — virtually the identical because the Crimson Sox (41) and Yankees (42).

In order that they have principally the identical variety of low-scoring video games however much more high-scoring video games, which is why they’re trailing within the standings regardless of that superior run differential. I am not precisely certain what this says concerning the Toronto offense.

Do they merely beat up on unhealthy pitching and the again ends of bullpens greater than different groups? For the reason that lineup is so right-handed, are they vulnerable to sure forms of right-handed pitching? Is it simply a type of issues that has occurred?

It may very well be all the above.

Nonetheless, it feels just like the Blue Jays would have one of the best likelihood of the three groups to make a deep run into October. The offense is explosive, the rotation has solidified with the commerce for Jose Berrios and the emergence of rookie Alek Manoah, and the bullpen has been a lot improved over the previous two months. The Yankees and Crimson Sox, in the meantime, proceed to run cold and hot. The Yankees appear to go as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge go (sizzling of late) whereas the Crimson Sox are only a sport over .500 within the second half.

The excellent news for Toronto is Cole has made his final regular-season begin. His subsequent sport will both come Monday in a possible tie-breaker sport or in Tuesday’s wild-card sport. The Rays, in the meantime, will begin Ray on Thursday towards Corey Kluber. The Crimson Sox can get another regular-season begin out of Chris Sale (on Sunday), however Nathan Eovaldi began Wednesday, so he is on the identical timetable as Cole.

All this implies the 4 golf equipment (together with Seattle) are already within the midst of playoff baseball. Simply win and keep alive for another day. The Yankees have a bit of cushion. The Crimson Sox have a delicate schedule. The Seattle Mariners aren’t even imagined to be right here. The Blue Jays? They’re simply hoping to go 4-0, hand out that residence run jacket many extra occasions over the following 4 days after which watch that scoreboard.

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