Opinion | The Blue Jays no longer control their destiny in the playoffs, and now the Mariners are a problem

Having lost the biggest game of the season on Tuesday night, the Blue Jays move on to the biggest game of the season on Wednesday night, continuing their pivotal series with the visiting New York Yankees.

The Blue Jays laid an egg in the series opener, a rare game this season in which they fell without much of a fight.

Corey Dickerson hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Blue Jays a too short 2-1 lead, and that was it. They didn’t get another hit the rest of the night against four Yankees relievers as the Bronx Bombers did their thing, taking the lead against Hyun-Jin Ryu with two runs in the fifth and saving it in the seventh with another bomb from Giancarlo Stanton. .

Stanton, the reigning AL Player of the Week, homered in every game of the Yankees’ weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and kept the streak going with a huge three-run shot. to the deep left off Trevor Richards, extending the lead to 6-2.

The 2017 NL MVP has 13 RBIs in his last four games, while New York’s opponents have scored just 11 runs in that span.

It was supposed to be a great homecoming for the Jays, with the Rogers Center’s capacity expanded to 30,000. They nearly filled the venue, drawing 28,769, but the crowd remembered so many in Toronto over the years: excited when the game started, but sitting on their hands for the most part.

Of course, when the home team only gets three hits, it can be hard to find something to cheer for, but the crowd did nothing Tuesday night.

All is not lost, however, because the woeful Baltimore Orioles did the Blue Jays a huge favor, beating the Red Sox 4-2 with a three-run rally off Chris Sale in the sixth inning at Camden Yards.

What that means is that instead of being one game away from a playoff spot with six games to play, the Blue Jays are one game away from a playoff spot with five games to go.

They are now three games away from the Yankees, making it difficult, but not impossible, to catch the Bronx Bombers. Going down as meekly as they did in the series opener makes it hard to imagine the Blue Jays rallying to win the series, but their season history has bounced back from tough losses and long offensive droughts to do what they do best. .

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Seattle Mariners have fans who believe with a September run that has landed them halfway through the Red Sox for second wild-card spot ... ahead of the Blue Jays.

After all, even with their current week of poor hitting, the Blue Jays still lead the American League in OPS and home runs and are third in runs scored. And even with Tuesday’s loss, they have the best September record in the league at 18-8. Yeah, it was 15-3 at one point, and it was good, because they needed all of that to get back in the race.

All they need from here is to be a better game than Boston. And to keep Seattle at bay.

While we’ve been watching the Blue Jays get closer to the Yankees and Red Sox all month, catching and / or passing them both on multiple occasions, the Mariners have quietly put together an exceptional last month.

The Blue Jays’ 1977 expansion cousins ​​were 17-8 in September, a streak that included four-game and six-game wins. After Tuesday night’s 4-2 victory over Oakland, the Ms have won nine of 10. When they began this streak, they sat four games behind the Blue Jays, who had the second wild card at the time, and five behind the Red Sox.

Tuesday’s victory on the West Coast after the Blue Jays and Red Sox had already lost placed them firmly between the two AL East rivals – half a game ahead of the Blue Jays and half a game behind the Red Sox. .

Seattle is miraculously 88-70 with four games to play, despite having scored 50 fewer runs than its opponents this season. The Mariners are not only the only team in the AL playoff career with a negative run differential, they are the only team in the league that does not have a losing record.

They have accomplished the feat with an incredible 33-18 record in one-run games to go with 28 losses by five runs or more.

The Mariners are free Thursday, which is when that half-game will disappear. They will attempt their second straight sweep of the Athletics on Wednesday night, then finish the season with three at home against the Angels.

The Blue Jays controlled their fate in the playoffs when Ryu threw his first pitch Tuesday night. With the series opening loss, they no longer do. They may win every game the rest of the way and still not make it.

They need help, but they also have to take care of business themselves, and it starts with the most important game of the season: the next one.

Mike Wilner is a Toronto-based baseball columnist for The Star and host of the “Deep Left Field” baseball podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @happiness


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