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Jays swept out of postseason in fitting fashion

A second straight ignominious exit

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game Two Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Blue Jays 0 at Twins 2

For the third time in four years, the Blue Jays were swept out of the postseason in two games. For the second straight year, it was in particularly ignominious fashion that left a very bitter aftertaste going into the winter, and that’s to say nothing of the fourth of those four years when they were left on the outside on the last say of the season.

The spotlight will inevitably focus on the baffling decision to remove Jose Berrios following a leadoff walk to Royce Lewis in the 4th inning. It was a walk borne not of wildness but of pitching around Lewis, which seemed prudent given that he single-handedly wrecked them a day earlier. Berrios had been dealing through three shutout innings, yielding just a single in every inning and little in the way of solid or hard contact.

Given that Yusei Kikuchi was up in the 2nd inning followed by Genesis Cabrera in the 3rd, it certainly appeared to be part of a pre-set plan to limit Berrios against the lefty heavy Twins lineup and force their hand in bringing righties off their bench. In the coming days we’ll surely learn more about this pivotal ill-fated decision and who was ultimately behind it.

So Yusei Kikucki came in to a tough spot, and wasn’t particularly sharp. First was an infield single to second that wasn’t exactly his fault, but then he followed with a walk to load the bases. A sharply hit single up the middle scored the first and ultimately decisive run. A ground ball double play limited the damage though allowed an insurance run to score. But in the end, this was effectively the game.

That said, you can’t win a game without scoring runs, and holding a team to two runs should be enough to win most games. Once again, the Jays had plenty of chances, but squandered a numerous opportunities especially early off an uncharacteristically hittable Sonny Gray:

  • A pair of singles were stranded in the first, by George Springer leading off and Bo Bichette with two out
  • Another two in the second after another leadoff single followed by a one walk drawn by Alejandro Kirk. Daulton Varsho attempted to lay down a bunt for a hit, but didn’t really execute

It only got more painful from there. Springer hit another single in the 5th, and Vladimir Guerrero Kr walked with two out. Both advanced on a wild pitch to put the tying runs in scoring position with Bichette at the plate. He battled to a 3-2 count, but he never got the chance to punch them in. Carlos Correa snuck in behidn Guerrero, Gray wheeled around and caught him napping to end the inning.

As maddening as that was, peak frustration — or perhaps catharsis — was to come in the 6th. A trio of one out singles loaded the bases for Matt Chapman, who lined a ball down the left field line, appearing destined to clear the bases and thrust the Jays into the lead. Instead it landed six or eight inches foul, and then Chapman grounded into a double play. And that was effectively lights out on the 2023 Blue Jays season, arguably in a most fitting coda.

Jay of the Day: Berrios, for the three good innings and class afterwards in the dugout

for the rest of the organization top-to-bottom, its decision making and lack of execution.

Tomorrow, the reckoning for this debacle begins. There will be plenty to say on that in time, but for now a reminder that as frustrating as this game, series, and even broadly season may have been, the posting and commenting guidelines remain in effect so keep it civil and the language clean.