Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Jays headed out on the road to play Boston and New York, a stretch during which it was widely agreed they had
to make a run if they wanted to be relevant in the second half. They went 3-5 and that seemed to be the end of any post-season aspirations.Except,
they proceeded to win 5 of 6 from Seattle and Minnesota, both teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race. That set up another road trip to visit weak sisters Chicago and Tampa Bay, a stretch during which it was widely agreed they had
to make a run if they wanted to be relevant in the second half. They went 2-4. Surely THAT was the end of any serious post-season aspirations.Except
, that all of the Wild Card leaders have been dealing with that title like a grenade with the pin out ("I don't want it, you take it!"). Now, after today's sweep of the Texas Rangers - to be filed under "About Damned Time" - the Blue Jays are 2 games clear of .500 and just 5 games out of the Wild Card.
Paradoxically, the Jays - a team that has repeatedly played themselves out of contention - find themselves, suddenly, in contention. Granted, there are a bunch of teams they have to climb over with only 53 games left on the schedule, but any team 5 games out with two months to play has to be in the playoff discussion.
Now, the Big Bad Yankees come to town, riding a hot streak and finally playing up to their potential, right? In reality, they've been fattening up their record by pounding the likes of Chicago, Tampa and Kansas City - something decent teams are supposed
to do. The Yankees are always a dangerous team, but they'll find it much tougher to crank out 10 runs per game against the Jays pitching - currently 3rd in the AL (though one is less than sangiune about the chances of Mssrs. Towers and Litsch).
It's tempting to say that the Jays have
to sweep to stay in contention, but we've been down that road before. In a league with no truly elite teams vying for the Wild Card, every team is one hot week away from the thick of the race. As a fan for whom expectations of October baseball should rightly have disappeared long ago, you just have to sit back and enjoy it.