TORONTO, Oct. 1 2023 – In an epic rollercoaster ride spanning 161 games, the Toronto Blue have faced many trials and tribulations, especially in their battles against formidable foes in the American League East. Nonetheless, after enduring a season of highs and lows, the boys of summer are now set to embrace the drama of fall ball.
“It’s awesome. You try to take it in a little bit when you have the support of the entire stadium and then some behind you,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “Cavan worked a full count and the ball just didn’t drop, but that’s what you play for. You want those moments. You want that feeling. I thought the crowd was great tonight,” added Schneider.
It was a fateful Saturday afternoon when they had the opportunity to secure their wild card berth in front of their fervent fans, but, true to the spirit of this Blue Jays team, nothing unfolded smoothly. Instead, they engaged in an extra-inning showdown with the Tampa Bay Rays, a battle that kept fans at the Rogers Centre on the edge of their seats.
Toronto started Ryu who 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 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. Ultimately, the Jays just could not get it going at the plate and had to leave their playoff hopes up to other teams winning or losing.
As the evening unfolded in Seattle, the matchup between Luis Castillo (SEA) and Andrew Heaney (TEX) seemed to tip the scales heavily in favor of the Mariners. With Castillo’s ace-caliber pitching prowess and Heaney’s track record of inconsistency, it appeared that the Mariners were poised to secure a victory, potentially postponing the Blue Jays’ long awaited postseason berth for yet another day. The game began with a sense of anticipation, but the unexpected was about to transpire. What should have been a routine win for the Mariners turned into a surprise celebration for the Blue Jays. Bases loaded walks, a remarkable three RBI performance by Jonah Heim, and Marcus Semien’s clutch hit to drive in his 100th run of the year propelled the Rangers to a rather comfortable victory.
The memories of the last time the Blue Jays clinched a World Series victory are forever etched in the minds of so many Toronto fans, a moment of jubilation that seemed to defy the laws of celebration. Nearly half a century has passed since the likes of Alomar, Key, Carter, Molitor, Olreod, Windfield, and their teammates left a mark on Toronto. This was before the era of Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors’ NBA championship. Winning the World Series twice in a row, put Toronto on the map!
The Bats Were Asleep
Despite boasting a lineup brimming with considerable star power, this season’s offensive output fell short of producing a single player who could boast more than 26 home runs, a feat achieved by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Obviously, with one game remaining, there’s a slim chance that Guerrero will miraculously hit four home runs on Sunday. Similarly, George Springer’s tally of 21 home runs is unlikely to surge by nine in a single day, and the hopes of both Bo Bichette and Daulton Varsho, each with 20 home runs, reaching 30 in one final spectacular performance are rather dim. As the season draws to a close, the absence of a player who could claim 30 home runs or 100 RBI does raise some valid concerns about the team’s offensive prowess.
This Blue Jays squad is renowned for its unwavering resolve, refusing to yield even in the face of daunting challenges. They encountered adversity in the past year, yet they’ve returned with even greater strength. It’s worth recalling that heart-stopping moment when they relinquished a substantial lead to Seattle. While loyal fans clamoured for changes, little was done aside from enhancing the pitching staff.
Now, as the Blue Jays secure their wild card spot, they step into the postseason with unwavering determination, burning with the desire to script a new chapter in their rich history. The stage is set, the anticipation is electric, and fans are primed for a postseason narrative that promises to be nothing short of legendary.
“We’re united. We trust each other. And we’re hungry to win,” Guerrero said. “I think that’s what’s different about this team.”
Can they seize the World Series title? Can they conquer a playoff round? No one possesses a crystal ball, but if the bats awaken and the defense and pitching continue to shine, there just might be another fall parade in store. And if it doesn’t pan out, the possibility of a youth movement, starting with the removal of Atkins and Schneider, looms.
“I think there should be urgency every single day of the season,” Bo Bichette said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that over 162 games, you can bring that, but I think that should always be the desire for us as players. For me, I really don’t feel very different. I have to go out there and play the best I can. That’s the same for all of the boys. We’ll find out if we can do it or not.”
The Blue Jays are headed to Minneapolis
Although the Blue Jays clinched a postseason spot late Saturday they saved the champagne celebration for after Game 162. They lost Sunday (tonight) 12-8 to Tampa Bay, but the chaotic and complicated AL Wild Card race had finally been settled. Toronto’s loss combined with a Houston win, means the Blue Jays get bumped back to the final Wild Card spot and No. 6 overall seed in the American League.
“This is why you play, to get drenched in beer and champagne,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider exclaimed post game. “This is why you do it. I love that the guys get to feel that. There are guys who have been here for a while and felt this a few years now, but the next step is feeling it multiple times as you keep going. I love it. This is what a team is about.”
“All of this, all of this sweat, it converts into joy and harmony, you know,” Guerrero said. “You see all of us smiling right now, and it’s not all the time that you see all of us smiling like that. … We’re all enjoying this. I think that’s a big thing, we’re all in harmony and at peace right now. We’re all celebrating together.”
That earns the Blue Jays a date with the Minnesota Twins, beginning Tuesday at Target Field. All three games are scheduled for a 4:38 p.m. ET start.
Let’s rally behind the Blue Jays!
by Myles Shane, with quotes from mlb.com/bluejays