Blue Jays tie Yankees in wild card race after pair of stunning come-from-behind wins over Orioles
The Toronto Blue Jays are now tied with the New York Yankees for the American League’s wild card spot after notching a pair of come-from-behind victories on Saturday as part of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Blue Jays trailed by a 10-7 margin entering the seventh inning of Game One. Toronto’s first three batters of the frame reached, including Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who singled in a run to make it 10-8. Jake Lamb hit a sacrifice fly to reduce the lead further, to 10-9, but a Danny Jansen fly out left the Blue Jays to their final out. Fortunately for Toronto, George Springer was able to make it count by unloading a two-run home run to give the Blue Jays an 11-10 lead.
Closer Jordan Romano would check in for the bottom of the seventh, and would overcome a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fielding error to preserve his 17th save of the year.
The Blue Jays entered Saturday trailing the Yankees by a half game. The victory in game one meant the two sides were even. The stakes were straightforward from there: if the Jays won Game Two, they would be no worse than tied with the Yankees at night’s end. A Blue Jays win accompanied by a Yankees loss, meanwhile, would leave Toronto in sole possession of the second wild card spot. The Yankees would win, and so would the Blue Jays, albeit in unusual fashion.
Toronto again entered the top of the seventh trailing, this time by a 1-0 margin. What was more notable is that the Blue Jays had not recorded a hit against left-hander Keegan Akin. Major League Baseball does not consider no-hitters or perfect games thrown in seven-inning games to be of the official lot, but it’s fair to say that no team wants to be blanked whether the game goes seven, nine, or 15 frames.
The Blue Jays offense proved as much with one of the most dominant stretches of hitting you’ll find in any game. Take a look at Toronto’s play log for the inning:
For those who weren’t keeping count, that’s 13 consecutive plate appearances that resulted in either a baserunner or a run scored to begin the seventh inning. That’s how Toronto turned a 1-0 deficit into an 11-1 lead. Reliever Anthony Castro would give back a run during the bottom half of the inning, but it hardly mattered.
With Saturday’s pair of offensive explosions included, the Blue Jays lineup now ranks first in the majors in home runs, second in wRC+ (a FanGraphs static that adjusts for ballpark and other variables), and third in runs scored. This is, in so many words, as good of an offense as one can find in the majors this season.
The Blue Jays have won 10 of their last 11 games, and they’ve scored fewer than five runs just once during that stretch — in the loss, predictably enough. Toronto has one more game against the Orioles on Sunday before they return to Canada for a six-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins.
It’s worth noting that the Blue Jays and Yankees have three head-to-head games looming in late September. Those games could, ultimately, decide who plays the Boston Red Sox in the AL’s Wild Card Game.