Blue Jays Struggle to Find Momentum as September Begins

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When Toronto Blue Jays fans woke up on Aug. 18, their team was a mere three games out of a Wild Card spot going into their series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Despite being ahead of only three teams in the American League, the Jays found themselves back in the playoff picture. They had won seven of their last ten games and fans knew that a single hot streak could bring them that much closer to a Wild Card spot. Toronto was hopeful that the Jays could make it happen, but a gruesome end to the month has all but laid those hopes to rest. The Jays have lost 10 of their last 13 games since the Cubs series began. On Aug. 21, I published an article on LWOB explaining how the Jays’ last ten games in the month of August were crucial to to their Wild Card hopes. The Jays went 3-7 in that stretch, and are now 8.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with six teams between them and the Minnesota Twins. Let’s take a look at what went wrong over the past 10 games.

Blue Jays Struggle to Find Momentum as September Begins

Jays Fly South to Tampa

The Jays headed down to Floridato face the Rays in Tampa after being swept by the Cubs at Wrigley. The bluebirds ended up losing two of three to the Rays, with all three games being decided by one or two runs.

Chris Archer‘s 10 strikeouts helped the Rays win 6-5 in game oneKevin Pillar‘s eighth inning dinger gave the Jays a 7-6 victory in game two, in a home run frenzy that included six homers for the Jays and three for the Rays. The Rays took the series finale by a score of 2-0. The Jays managed to out-hit the Rays 6-5, but they were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

The Jays finished the series 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and went back home with only one victory. A series loss to another Wild Card contender is always a tough pill to swallow.

Twins Come to Town

44-year-old Bartolo Colon pitched 6 2/3 innings on Aug. 25 as the Twins won 6-1 in the series opener. The offensive production came from Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton, who each had three hits and two RBI. The Jays had 10 hits themselves, but were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position which is definitely not a recipe for success.

Fans at the Rogers Centre for Saturday’s game were treated with runs, runs, and more runs. A six-run sixth inning and a strong start from Marco Estrada propelled the Jays to a 10-9 victory.

Sunday afternoon was the Byron Buxton Show in Toronto, and boy did he ever come to play. The 23-year-old from Baxley, Georgia went 4-for-5 with three home runs and five RBI to march the Twins past the Jays in the series finale.

The Twins had 14 hits in the game, and Joe Biagini lasted only 3 2/3 innings for the Jays, giving up nine hits and walking three batters. After losing yet another series to a Wild Card contender, the Jays braced themselves as the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox came to town.

Red Sox Sweep Series

A two-run ninth inning wasn’t enough to help the Jays as they lost 5-4 to the Red Sox in the series opener. The rest of the series didn’t go the Jays way either. Chris Sale was unbeatable as usual in the second game, giving up three hits and no walks while striking out 11 hitters in seven innings as the Jays were held scoreless, losing 3-0. A 7-1 loss in the series finale was salt in the wound for the Jays, who gave up four runs in the eighth inning as the Red Sox waltzed out of Toronto with a series sweep. Jays reliever Tim Mayza gave up four runs, two hits, and walked two batters without retiring anybody. His last three appearances? Five hits and seven earned runs over 1 2/3 innings pitched.

Battle of the Birds

The Jays finished out the month of August on a somewhat good note, beating the Orioles 11-8 in Baltimore. Three home runs from Kendrys Morales helped the Jays who gave up 16 hits, but also went 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Starters Estrada and Jeremy Hellickson both had nights to forget, combining for 17 hits and 13 earned runs over 9 2/3 innings pitched.

Looking Ahead

The Jays have certainly struggled over their last 10 games. Their only three victories came with 23 runs against, definitely not a sustainable way to win games. The Jays currently sit 8.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, and with less than 30 games to play, it’s starting to look like Jays fans won’t be watching their team play past Oct. 1. The Blue Jays kick off the month of September in Baltimore on Friday night at 7:05 pm eastern. Joe Biagini will take the mound for the Jays against Kevin Gausman. The Orioles currently sit only 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.
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