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Blue Jays treading water, but face tough schedule ahead

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The Toronto Blue Jays have had it pretty easy schedule-wise for the better part of the past month.

After leaving Baltimore with a series split on May 15, Toronto kicked off a 23-game stretch against six teams with a combined record of 123-139. Of those six teams, the Jays were to play the Chicago White Sox twice, who were an American League-worst 14-30. That part of the schedule was supposed to be where the Jays, last in the AL East at 19-23, would turn their season around.

“When you dig yourself a little bit of a hole, you’re increasing the importance of the games ahead,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said via Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic on May 20.  “We have had a very tough schedule, the hardest in baseball, we played on the road a ton. Now it’s starting to turn a bit, so that would heighten our opportunity to turn the tides.”

The Jays won two of three games against the White Sox that week, winning their first series since leaving San Diego taking two of three from the Padres nearly a month earlier. The turnaround stopped abruptly later that week in the Motor City, losing three of four to the struggling Detroit Tigers.

They got back on track the following week, sweeping the White Sox, taking two of three against the Pirates and rebounding from two lopsided losses to the Orioles to salvage a split of their four-game series. This past weekend in Oakland against the Athletics, Toronto was walked off in the opener but bounced back with two straight victories to win their third series in two weeks.

The Blue Jays ended up going 13-10 during that 23-game stretch and come into play Monday having won four of their past five. While they still sit below the .500 mark (32-33), Toronto is just two games back of the final AL wild-card playoff position with well over half the season still to come.

And now that things are about to get tougher, the Blue Jays will need to be sharp to continue making up ground.

Based on the current standings, the Jays will play six consecutive series against teams with records at or exceeding .500. Starting Monday in Milwaukee against the Brewers, the Jays are then home to the Cleveland Guardians (42-22) and Boston Red Sox (33-33) followed by Cleveland and Boston again, this time on the road, and then the New York Yankees (46-21) for four games in Toronto from June 27-30.

 

Blue Jays upcoming schedule

Dates Opponent Current Record
June 10-12 Milwaukee Brewers 38-27
June 14-16 Cleveland Guardians 42-22
June 17-19 Boston Red Sox 33-33
June 21-23 Cleveland Guardians 42-22
June 24-26 Boston Red Sox 33-33
June 27-30 New York Yankees 46-21
July 1-4 Houston Astros 30-36
July 5-7 Seattle Mariners 37-30
July 9-11 San Francisco Giants 32-34
July 12-14 Arizona Diamondbacks 31-35

As of today, those four teams have a combined record of 159-103 and a winning percentage of .606.

The Jays get a bit of a reprieve with the 30-36 Houston Astros on July 1, except the Astros haven’t missed the playoffs since 2016 and have been playing better of late, winning six of their last 10.

Then it’s the division-leading Seattle Mariners (37-30), the San Francisco Giants (32-34) and the defending National League pennant-winning Arizona Diamondbacks (31-35) heading into the All-Star Break.

That means Toronto will play all three of the AL’s division leaders in the next month without facing a team more than four-and-a-half games out of a playoff spot until after the All-Star Break.

“Every game is important at this point,” manager John Schneider said via MLB.com’s Sonja Chen after Sunday’s win in Oakland. “You have to keep that at the front of everything you’re doing every day, and at the same time, understanding that you have to be consistent and there’s still a whole lot of baseball left to be played.”