Mitchell on Springer's resurgence, Blue Jays' confidence heading into final week
The Blue Jays and Yankees begin a series in Toronto on Tuesday that means a thing or two.
Sitting two games behind New York in the American League wild-card standings with six games to go, the three-game set is a golden opportunity to pick up ground and will likely determine whether or not the Jays return to the postseason.
The timing for the homestand – which sees the Baltimore Orioles come to town on the season’s final weekend – couldn’t be better. Not only is it the most meaningful September baseball being played at Rogers Centre in five years, but it’s also expected to be the Blue Jays’ biggest crowd since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Up to 30,000 fans will be allowed to attend under new provincial rules that took effect over the weekend, approximately doubling the capacity since the team returned home on July 30.
Fans in the city are excited and so are the players.
“We’re going to play the big dogs and we’re going to play them at home in front of 30,000 fans. That’s massive. It’s going to be great,” Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen said via Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
“We’re excited about the energy. We’re excited about the big series. It’s that time of year. It’s go time right now. We’re ready to compete and give everyone in Toronto a big show at home,” rookie starter Alek Manoah added.
Even the Yankees are looking forward to the showdown.
“It’s going to be another playoff atmosphere,” star outfielder Aaron Judge said. “They’re a great young team that took it to us back in New York. They’re fighting just like us for that playoff spot. It’s going to be some fun games in Toronto.”
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Yankees, but they enter the series having won six straight and are coming off a Fenway sweep of the Red Sox, pushing Boston into the second wild-card spot only one game clear of the Jays.
Remaining on Boston’s schedule are three-game series with the Orioles and Washington Nationals, two teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention for months. After their date with the Jays, the Yankees will close out their season at home against the Tampa Bay Rays, who locked up first place in the AL East last week.
So, the importance of each game for Toronto, the next three in particular, can’t be understated.
“Yes, we’re young. Yes, we’re in a playoff race that might be a little new and with fans in the stands it’s a little different than last year. But we’re ready,” second baseman Marcus Semien said via Longley.
“I’ll take us over anybody.”
Opening the series for Toronto will be left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, who is returning from a bout with neck tightness that required a trip to the injured list. Ryu has been dreadful lately, pitching to an ERA of 24.92 in 4.1 innings combined over his previous two starts. Ryu’s season ERA of 4.34 is the highest full-season mark of his career, so there’s no better time for him to turn things around than right now.
The Yankees will counter with right-hander Jameson Taillon, who took the loss despite throwing seven solid innings against the Blue Jays on Sept. 6.