Everyone knew the day was coming. Toronto was only officially eliminated from the American League East race last night. In reality — all algebra aside — the Jays were eliminated quite some time ago.
For me, it was when Milton Bradley hit the walk-off home run against B.J. Ryan on July 30. That was the moment when all the hope seemed to be snuffed out. That was the second lost in a seven-game skid and was on the second leg of the three-city, 2-8 road trip Toronto was on. I’m sure the rest of you have other games that stick out in the same regard.
These last 11 games needs to be taken seriously for Toronto, though. At the very least, they are games in which the Blue Jays can get as close to feeling what a playoff atmosphere is like by assuming the role of the spoiler. That starts tonight, when Toronto can try to stop the Yankees’ division-clinching party from taking place at the Rogers Centre. Of course, the Jays also need the Red Sox to lose to stave off the champagne.
Then comes Boston. Toronto can use those games to try and leapfrog the Red Sox in the standings. Sure, second place doesn’t mean as much this year, seeing that the Wild Card is coming out of the Central. And it’s not like Toronto stormed UP the standings to catch the Red Sox. It was more that Boston slipped horribly in August and stumbled DOWN to the Blue Jays. Even so, Toronto hasn’t been higher than third since ’93. The Jays would take it.
Toronto then heads to Detroit for a three-game set that could make or break the Tigers’ chances at winning the AL East, winning the Wild Card, or falling out of it if the White Sox can make a last-minute push. Personally, I think the Twins will win the Central and the Tigers will get in the playoffs with the Wild Card.
The last three games against the Yankees won’t have much meaning, unless that bid for second place is still on the line for the Jays. New York will have the East wrapped up and probably won’t strut out it’s complete All-Star lineup. Of course, after New York swept Toronto in Yankee Stadium the last time the Jays made the trip to the Bronx, I’m sure the Jays would like to take the final series.
First things first, though, the Blue Jays need to try to send the Yankees packing with unopened bottles of champagne tonight. Oh, and helping Roy Halladay get another win wouldn’t be bad, either.