TORONTO – After a busy offseason with some big name signings, the Toronto Blue Jays started the regular season feeling optimistic about their chances of returning to the playoffs.
Going into the final week of the 2021 campaign, the Blue Jays are at the center of the wild-card chase.
The Blue Jays have been trending up the past two seasons after deep rebuilding, and a strong September has improved their chances of making the postseason cut this year. With a deep, home run offense and an improved starting rotation, Toronto could prove a terrifying opponent in October.
“I talked to the team in spring training and I said everyone talks about our hitting and rightly so because we’re going to swing the bats and we have a good offense,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said in a recent medium. call. But at the end of the day in the major leagues you win with pitching and defense.
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“Our pitching has been so good, our starters have been great and our defense has played well. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been doing so well here lately. “
Toronto is chasing Boston and New York, rivals to the American League East, in the race for the two AL wild-card spots. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics also have a chance to make the cut.
The wild card teams will meet in an inning game on October 5 with the winner advancing to the AL Division Series and the loser returning home.
Sluggers Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Marcus Semien are having MVP-caliber seasons for the Blue Jays, Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez have provided mid-level pop and starter Robbie Ray is in the running for the Cy Young award.
Powerful bats like George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., have helped lengthen the lineup. Closer Jordan Romano of Markham, Ontario has helped anchor the bullpen and Tim Mayza has served as a quality setter.
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“Of course we’re doing a lot better than people thought because it’s the first full year for (many) of these kids,” Montoyo said. “You never know what will happen when kids get 500 (or) 600 at-bats for the first time.
“But I’m very proud to be here right now after everything we’ve been through this year.”
The team played in two different local stadiums this season before finally returning to Toronto’s Rogers Center in late July.
The pandemic forced the Blue Jays to open their local schedule at their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida, before finally moving north to their triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.
Given the unique locations, fans of rival teams, particularly the New York Yankees in Buffalo and the Tampa Bay Rays in Dunedin, sometimes outnumbered fans in Toronto. It made some of the so-called home games feel more like road games.
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“This team never made an excuse for everything we’ve been through,” Montoyo said. “I think that was the key. Don’t complain about being in three different stadiums and being in minor league stadiums and having crowds against you.
“They didn’t complain all the time because the moment you start doing that, teams go their own way.”
After Monday’s day off, the Blue Jays will begin a critical three-game series against the Yankees that begins Tuesday night at the Rogers Center.
A recent change to provincial rules will allow for a capacity increase to 30,000, a welcome boost for the Blue Jays who hope that home-field advantage over the next six games can help them get over the hump.
Toronto will close the campaign with a weekend against the Baltimore Orioles, last classified.
The best-of-five AL Divisional Series will begin on October 7. The playoffs will continue through the World Series beginning October 26.
© 2021 The Canadian Press