Well. That was kind of anticlimactic but it’s done. With the Red Sox’ defeat of the Orioles this afternoon in Fenway, the Blue Jays are officially guaranteed to hold at least the third wildcard spot. So thanks for that, Boston.
It’s been a long and frequently frustrating season, with a team that has rarely felt like its playing to its full potential, but they’ve survived and will at least get a chance to make something happen in October. You can’t ask for more than that.
On a related note, I want to talk for a second about what it means to survive this division to reach the playoffs. Today’s win improves Boston’s record inside the AL East to 23-47. At 75-81 overall, that means they’re 52-34 against not the AL East. They played like a 101 win team outside the meat grinder and the division made them look like a 109 loss squad. Toronto posting a 38-32 record against that crew (with 6 to play), and a 49-37 mark against the rest, shows that this team can hang with anybody.
The Jays aren’t quite done with their AL East gauntlet, though. They host the Red Sox for a series tomorrow and then head to Baltimore to close out the regular season.
As of right now they’re up 1.5 games on the Rays and 2.0 on the Mariners. The Rays are in the process of finishing a series with the Guardians, and play Houston and Boston next. Unfortunately for Toronto, neither of those teams has anything to play for, and Houston might be inclined to rest some starters with the #1 seed in the AL all but secured. The Mariners, similarly, are playing Texas tonight and then Oakland and Detroit, all bad teams already looking ahead to next season. All three wildcard teams are poised to finish the season hot, so to stay in front the Jays are going to need to do some winning.
The good news is that a sweep of Boston would probably all but lock things up, allowing them to spend the Baltimore series lining up the rotation for the wildcard. Let’s set that as a goal. Step one is tomorrow night at 7:07 ET.