Blue Jays on the brink of clinching after blowout win over Yankees — Toronto Sun

BUFFALO – They can read the standings and adhere to the slim caution of the magic number still lurking, but when the Blue Jays arrived here at Sahlen Field on Wednesday afternoon, there was a fresh excitement. Read More

Blue Jays on the brink of clinching after blowout win over Yankees — Toronto Sun

By Rob Longley

BUFFALO — They can read the standings and adhere to the slim caution of the magic number still lurking, but when the Blue Jays arrived here at Sahlen Field on Wednesday afternoon, there was a fresh excitement.

With all but the most feint of mathematical probabilities in the way of clinching a playoff spot, the Jays could smell it. And perhaps there was a whiff of blood in the air as well as they laid a 14-1 beating on the New York Yankees.

Second-year manager Charlie Montoyo said felt it as soon as he walked into the clubhouse hours before first pitch. So, too, did his versatile lead-off man Cavan Biggio, who didn’t want to get ahead of himself but acknowledged the imminent accomplishment.

And that feeling carried onto the field for a statement blow-out to reduce that magic number to one with four games to play.

The clinching celebration was denied as both the Angels and Mariners clung to life with wins, but it’s now near impossible to envision a scenario where the Jays don’t return to the post-season for the first time since 2016.

And with ace Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound for Thursday’s series finale against the Yankees, playoff fever will be spiking.

“I’m going to sleep good tonight knowing he’s going tomorrow,” Montoyo said after Wednesday’s game when asked of about having the big lefty on tap with the stakes so high.

The fact that the imminent thrill of October baseball arrived this year is further encouragement for the young Jays, who have not lacked in self-belief.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Biggio, who scored Wednesday’s first run after drawing a leadoff walk in the first then drove in two more in the Jays eight-run sixth. “I think we’re just scratching the surface on what we’re going to be able to do at this level.

“To see it coming this early on in our careers gives us a little glimpse of what we can end up doing in the future.”
Montoyo was of the same mind, candidly acknowledging that he didn’t think that true playoff contention would come for his team until 2021.

That they are on the brink of it now — and sure they took advantage of the expanded playoff format — is both a bonus and a boost to the confidence of a team that is driven by its young core.

“I’m very proud of my team to be in this position at this time, to be in a position to clinch a playoff spot,” Montoyo said. “No one expected us to be here and you can feel the vibe in there.

“This is a great experience for them. Just going through this for the first time, it’s petty cool for these kids. You can see it. This is going to help them from now until they retire.”

Though the Jays had fallen from form somewhat last week, some swagger is returning. From the outset of a challenging season — one that had then turfed from their Canadian home and denied shared arrangements in other major league cities — the team has responded favourably and thrived.

“You can make it as bad as it is or as good as you want,” Biggio said of the hurdles they’ve negotiated. “Going into the season and our situation not being able to play in Toronto and coming into Buffalo … we could have easily looked at it like, man, our backs are up against the wall. It’s okay if we don’t win this year, it’s kind of a crazy year.

“But the way we took it was is we’re here for each other. The biggest thing we’ve had is chemistry.”

They are close enough to feel it now, just a win on Thursday to set up a weekend to reset and prepare for a playoff opener next Tuesday.https://www.youtube.com/embed/IUgq0BKD818?embed_config={%27relatedChannels%27:%20[],%27autonav%27:true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1

Once that playoff spot is verified — as presumptive as that may be, the odds against it happening are prohibitive — the Jays feel they can make some noise. Put it this way, a potential first-round date with the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t intimidate them given how tough they played their division rivals earlier in the season.

“We’ve got to get there first,” Biggio cautioned. “That being said, I think this team plays with a lot of excitement and a lot of energy. The cool part of this team is we’re never really out of a game.”

And now just a game away from getting to play at the next level.

POST-GAME NOTES

It was a mixed bag from Jays starter Robbie Ray, though he probably did enough to move himself into some playoff work. Ray allowed just one run on three hits but with an elevated pitch count of 90 lasted just four innings. … Montoyo won’t be tipping his hand for a while, but we could see Ray splitting a start with Matt Shoemaker in the post-season … Not so fast, Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen sees you. The regular Jays catcher had a four-hit night with a single, double and a pair of home runs. “I just tried to be aggressive on him and try to put the barrel on it,” Jansen said of the first dinger, a line-drive shot over the wall in left off of Masahiro Tanaka … Something about the sixth. The Jays put up eight in that inning on Wednesday following up the 10-spot they inflicted on the Yankees here on Sept. 7 … After a season-long six-game losing streak the Jays are building momentum again with wins in three of their past four to improve to 29-27 … Solid relief effort from Ross Stripling who pitched four shutout innings to close things out … Besides a chance to clinch on Thursday, the Jays could salvage a split on the 10-game season series with the Yanks currently holding a 5-4 edge.

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