Blue Jays playoff hopes slipping away after embarrassing series sweep

Sep 15 2023, 3:40 am

The Toronto Blue Jays entered their four-game series against the Texas Rangers with their playoff fate in their own hands. A series win, heck, even a split, and they would keep the Rangers at bay.

But they did much worse than that.

Toronto got swept out of their own stadium, outmatched in every way imaginable by a team ahead of them in the Wild Card playoff picture. The Blue Jays stunk, and now their playoff hopes are slipping away with 15 games left in the schedule.

It would be one thing if the Blue Jays played competitive baseball this week. But that was the furthest thing on display at Rogers Centre. They led in one inning of 27 innings played against the Rangers in this four-game series.

The Blue Jays were outhit 44-23 and outscored 35-9. Toronto was over-matched in every facet by the Rangers, who clearly came to play with their season on the line. They barely showed up to play this series at the most crucial point of their season.

Although the Rangers were reeling and had tumbled down from the top of the American League West standings, they still had a lot to prove going into this series. After Toronto completed a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals over the weekend, the Jays were back in the playoff picture.

But this Texas Rangers team was a much better ball club than the last three the Blue Jays faced: the Royals, the Rockies, and the Athletics. Collectively, the worst three teams in baseball, and they went 7-3 against those teams in some very close games.

So it shouldn’t have been all that surprising when one of the most lethal lineups in the American League desecrated Blue Jays pitching. Whether it was the starting rotation or the bullpen, it didn’t matter. The Rangers teed off on most Blue Jays pitchers.

Although the Blue Jays’ starting rotation has carried their weight most of the season, they’ve been showing some signs of weakness as of late. But a lot of the pitching inefficiencies could’ve been remedied by some timely hitting, which was absent from this series.

It was the same tale that’s been present all season long; not just a lack of timely hitting, but a lack of an approach and an absence of competitive at bats altogether. They were few and far between.

For whatever reason, this Blue Jays squad lacks the clutch gene in 2023. When the game is on the line and they need a big hit from one of their best hitters, they often come up short. They can’t deliver in high pressure moments.

Having one of the best starting rotations and bullpens in the American League is great and all, but when the Blue Jays average only 4.57 runs per game (16th in MLB this season), it puts tremendous pressure on the pitching staff to be perfect every single night.

As shown by the Blue Jays in this series, the rotation and bullpen faltered, but they can’t be expected to be perfect for a full 162-game slate. This is where the offence should come in and pick up their teammates, but they didn’t.

The Blue Jays beat up on bad teams over the last week, but that’s what they should’ve done. All of a sudden, a playoff contender strolls into town and they looked like pretenders, not contenders.

And this is the exact calibre of hitting and pitching the Blue Jays would face in a potential playoff series, and they folded like a cheap lawn chair. If by some grace they squeak into the postseason, we’ve seen a grim preview of how they may perform in a playoff series.

The Blue Jays were so bad this week that they got booed out of their own stadium after these losses. That’s saying a lot for a team with the star power they have, but just haven’t been able to put it all together for a sustainable stretch at any point this season.

There are still games left to play and the Blue Jays aren’t dead yet, but they’re on life support. Now with 15 games left exclusively against American League teams, and a 12-25 record against their division rivals, they have their work cut out for themselves.

Ian HunterIan Hunter

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