Blue Jays run out of time to improve playoff position after loss to Yankees

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TORONTO – Long before the first spring training began, the pandemic struck and COVID-19 changed everything, Bo Bichette refused to accept the better but not yet ready narrative around the Toronto Blue Jays. The star shortstop told anyone asking that he and his teammates defy low expectations and surprise those who take them lightly.

That belief is why he got angry earlier this week when asked if the Blue Jays were offered the scenario they are in now – closing in on eighth and final playoff spot. American League playoffs in the final days of the campaign – how fast he would have signed for it.

“Not so fast,” he replied bluntly.

“We played very well, but I think we could have played better,” continued Bichette. “I am proud of how we have fought this year under many difficult circumstances. But last week we’re just going to try to get a playoff spot. As I have always told you, we all expected to be here. So I don’t think we would have just run out of luck for eighth place.

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At this point, eighth place is probably what’s left for the Blue Jays, as Tuesday night’s 12-1 move from the New York Yankees almost officially locked them in third place in the American League East. . A realistic run for second in the division would have required a sweep of the current four-game streak between the clubs, but instead, they’re now four games behind the Yankees with five games to go.

The Blue Jays also lost three games to Cleveland – a 5-3 winner against the Chicago White Sox – for the second wildcard spot, while their magic number to clinch a postseason spot remained at three. while waiting for the Seattle-Houston game.

Locking in that remains their priority in the next few days, but the Blue Jays may also look to optimize for a first-round playoff series, although “at the moment we have a pretty good idea, if we get it right, who we are going to be. take, ”said director Charlie Montoyo. “Everyone’s pitched, so we’ve got a really good idea.”

To that end, another date with Gerrit Cole helped refine their approach against the type of elite throwing they can expect to encounter regularly in the playoffs.

Montoyo was delighted with the plans his hitters employed in Monday’s 11-5 series opener, saying “the two-stroke approach was exceptional. It was good to see, the guys getting hits, not double-hitting hits. Hopefully this approach continues. ”

This did it, to some extent, against the right-handed ace, but it really didn’t give them much work, allowing only one run on five hits, one of them a shot. Cavan Biggio’s solo in the fourth, in seven innings. . He averaged 97.2 mph on a four-seam fastball he threw 50 times on 108 pitches, and with a vicious slider and curveball for the hitters, it’s no fun night. on the plate.

“We did a good job increasing his number of shots,” said Montoyo.

Most fruitfully, the Yankees did this for the points count against Tanner Roark, bleeding a pair in the first on a lucky triple bounce from Aaron Hicks and a wild throw, adding another in the fourth before the game rolled out. in four. run fifth.

Roark was called out after a single with one out with Aaron Judge RBI and Thomas Hatch suffered damage for the fourth straight outing, allowing Hicks a two-run single ahead of a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. dive, first base and another single RBI to Gleyber Torres before. escaping from the frame.

With Hyun-Jin Ryu, Taijuan Walker and Matt Shoemaker lined up to kick off the first three postseason games, Roark’s role in the postseason is uncertain. It’s his turn to kick off Sunday’s season finale, which would rule him out of the first round, and it’s unclear how he would fit into the divisional series, if the Blue Jays get there.

The track to cement the progress he feels he has made in locating his throws and getting out of the rubber is short.

“You just have to take it one start at a time, one box at a time, when you’re playing wrestling, that’s a really big thing,” Roark, who hasn’t pitched five innings since Aug. 30, said in About how to build yourself. to the top. “Concentrate on feeling whatever you want to feel because you are playing catch more than the mound. Keep building on what I have done today and in my previous starts and try to keep going. ”

His recent issues are a secondary concern to those in the Box, which in many ways has led the Blue Jays to the position they are in now.

Hatch, who has emerged as a leverage of confidence, is suddenly knockable, which, in the continued absence of Jordan Romano, who threw a paddock on Tuesday, is a problem, as Wilmer Font, the mid reliever. – sleeve, don’t cheat on anyone anymore.

“The base shot (by Hicks) is a look, it’s a base shot that we couldn’t get,” Montoyo said of Hatch. “I still trust the guy. It looks good on me. Today was not his best, but we catch this ball on the ground, it’s a different set.

The decision to start Ray on Wednesday pushed Chase Anderson to the box, and he dazzled for two innings, hitting five in a row at one point, before spitting up a third place in eighth. If he can be more like the guy in the first two innings, that’s something to consider in short bursts.

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“It was his best outing in quite some time,” Montoyo said. “I thought he was good.”

The Blue Jays will have to figure out what recovering right-hangers Romano, Nate Pearson and Julian Merryweather could deliver, and the same goes for southpaw Anthony Kay, who took a break last week. Meanwhile, Rafael Dolis was unavailable due to a knee problem suffered in Philadelphia, and third baseman Travis Shaw was scratched with back spasms.

With the closure of the alternative training site in Rochester and the reduction to a 40-man post-season player pool, the Blue Jays now have everyone together for the road ahead. Their place in the standings is almost defined, and preparations for the post-season await them.



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