It’s been a wonky season for the Toronto Blue Jays. It was supposed to be the one where they leaped from just a playoff team to AL East titan. Didn’t work out. Part of it is that Alek Manoah started throwing wiffle balls. Another part is that Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s power went to the zoo for most of the season. Throw in some injuries, a little bad luck, and a pinch of bad baseball juju and you get a whiskey dick of a season.
Did Sweden just declare sex a sport?
Still, the Jays had a chance to salvage most of it. They had taken advantage of a slip from the Mariners, and the full-body dry heave that the Texas Rangers had been putting forth for a month or more, and had ascended to a playoff spot. Better yet, they were welcoming the Rangers to Toronto for four games. A chance to lock it all up, even if it wasn’t what they pictured back in March. Keep the Rangers on their descent into hell, and even a wild-card spot can turn into gold in October. Can’t ask for too much more than to control your own fate.
Instead, the Blue Jays spent four days stepping on every rake in The Six.
35-9. Cumulative score of the four Rangers wins, that. That’s not just getting swept, that’s getting punted into orbit. The Jays even caught a break or two. Max Scherzer had to leave his Tuesday start in the sixth inning thanks to a shoulder problem that will keep him out the rest of the season. Which would have mattered more if the Jays weren’t then down five by the time they got a full inning against someone else.
They had the clubhouse leader for the AL Cy Young Award going on Thursday to try and salvage one game. A game that would have kept them a game and a half within the Rangers and one game within the Mariners. Kevin Gausman didn’t get out of the fifth.
Look around, and everyone the Jays count on wasn’t it this week. Gausman got shelled. Vladito had two hits. George Springer managed three singles. Alejandro Kirk had a hit. Bichette the Younger, admittedly coming off an injury, went hitless for the first three games. They only got a quality start of Hyun Jin Ryu on Tuesday, which the pen promptly spit back.
Oh, sure, the Jays might still be ok. They have only the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays left, teams that have nowhere to go, or the Rays, who might be locked into where they are. The Mariners, Rangers, and Astros all play each other still, so the Jays could gain ground on someone pretty much every night if they turn it around.
Counting on that though? The Jays are 12-25 against their own division. They had the season right there in front of them, at home, for four days. They threw up stomach acid all over themselves.
Gausman is wheezing to the finish line a bit. Vlad can’t hit the ball out of the infield. Whit Merrifield died. Bichette has a wOBA of .213 in his last 13 games, with injuries taking their toll.
Feels like the kind of set that a team doesn’t recover from. If they end up in the playoffs, it’ll only be because it landed on them instead of them grabbing it. It was right there, and the Jays simply waved as it went by. Which might lead to some uncomfortable questions come winter. Not all rebuilds come out clean on the other side. The Jays will need one playoff win to even think about claiming that theirs did. Getting one’s ass rubbed in the moonshine for four games at home doesn’t suggest they’ll be getting it anytime soon.
I don’t usually like to pull one highlight to prove a major point. And yet, every player who has high-tailed it to Saudi Arabia can’t wait to tell everyone how it isn’t about the money. May I present Fabinho, who not all that long ago was one of the best defensive midfielders in the world:
That check is still going to clear, though.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social