Ferguson: Jays need to go on impressive run to make playoffs

Scott Ferguson
8/22/2014 1:18:07 PM
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Heading into this weekend's three game set with Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays have 35 games left to play. They have to make up a four game deficit on Detroit for the second Wild Card spot. They're also 3.5 games back of Seattle, are tied with the Yankees and are sitting just a half-game ahead of Cleveland.

It will take a 23-12 stretch run, just to finish at 88 wins and there is no guarantee even that will be enough, But I suppose the key point is, they are still alive  with just 38 days remaining in the season and are still playing "meaningful" ball.

I decided to look back at six of Jays most significant seasons to see just how they did from August 15 up until the regular season's final day.

Let's start with 1984, the year the Blue Jays had the best team of their young history.

Detroit started out that season 35-5 and looked unbeatable. The Jays, to their credit stayed relatively close for most of the season. In mid-August, they were (68-51), But from that point on they went (21-22) and didn't win two in a row after September 12 to finish at (89-73).

In 1985 the Blue Jays won their first division title, eliminating the Yankees and clinching the top spot with a victory over Billy Martin and company on the final Saturday of the regular season at Exhibition Stadium. On August 16th of that season, the Jays were (72-43), while this year's Jays were 63-60 on the same date. The Jays went 27-19 down the stretch, though they did drop five of their last six to give the Yanks one last fleeting chance. Bobby Cox and the troops finish with a franchise record 99 victories.

1987 was the year of the heartbreak. The Blue Jays lead the AL East over Detroit with just seven games to play. Rocked by injuries to Tony Fernandez and Ernie Whitt, they dropped all seven including the final three at Tigers Stadium and finished second to Detroit. That year they were 69-48 in mid-August and went (27-18) the rest of the way.

In 1989, the Blue Jays won their second division title, and ultimately lost the ALCS in five games to Oakland. Still, the season featured a great stretch run. They were just (60-59) on August 15, two games worse off than they are this season. Cito Gaston's crew went 29-14 the rest of the way to take the East with an 89-73 mark.

In 1991 they laid claim to their third division title, before losing to Minnesota in five in the ALCS, dropping the last three at home. They did play well over the last six weeks, going 28-18  to finish at 91-71.

In 1992 it all came together as they won their first World Series title beating Atlanta in six games. They were 20 games over .500 on August 15 at 68-48 and finished with another 28-18 run to wind up at 96-66, the second best record in club history.

In 1993 the Blue Jays made it a repeat by beating Philadelphia in six, winning the series at home on Joe Carter's "Touch em all, Joe" walk off homer against Mitch Williams. The Jays went 27-16 down the stretch that season to finish at 95-67.

The bottom line is this: If the Blue Jays need to finish at 23-12 at the very least, they have only done that twice before in franchise history in the years they made the post-season. In 1989 when they were won 15 more games than they lost and 1993, when they won 11 more than they lost. Those were decidedly stronger teams and won division titles and the '93 World Series.

If the Blue Jays make the playoffs now even as a Wild Card, it would be an epic achievement considering the odds.

Cuban Option

A number of teams had been monitoring the workouts of Cuban defector Rusney Castillo with the Red Sox agreeing to terms with him on Friday on a reported seven-year, $72.5 million deal.

Castillo has a bit of pop in his bat and can play either 2B or CF. It puzzles me why the Blue Jays haven't been in on this 27-year-old. They have needs in both those areas, and they wouldn't have to give up anything but money to get him.

On The Farm

Big night for the kids Thursday night at Buffalo.

Lefty Daniel Norris ran his record to 3-0 with the Herd and dropped his ERA to 1.08.  He struck out nine over five innings in Buffalo's 5-1 victory over Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Norris has 32 strikeouts in 16-plus innings with the Bisons.

Anthony Gose batting second and playing right field tied a Buffalo modern record by stealing four bases in the game and 21-year-old Dalton Pompey made his Triple-A debut in front of a crowd of 11,134 batting leadoff and playing centre field. The 21 year old Mississauga, ON-native went 1-for-4, with his first Triple-A hit coming in the fifth inning on a single. At the very least, all three figure to be September call-ups.

Jose Bautista Jose Reyes (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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