Saturday, March 2, 2024

Surging Blue Jays close in on playoff position; Red Sox pass Yankees for top AL wild-card spot

The American League wild card scene underwent some upheavals on Wednesday night. The Yankees‘ loss to the Blue Jays in tandem with the Red Sox’s win over the Rays means that Boston has passed the Yankees for the top wild-card position by a half-game. The Yankees, meantime, fall out of the top wild-card spot for the first time since Aug. 16. On top of all that, the Blue Jays, winners of seven in a row, are not just 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the final AL playoff berth. 

The Blue Jays took the third game of their four-game series in the Bronx with a 6-3 win on Wednesday (box score). Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had two hits, including his 41st home run of the season: 

The 22-year-old Guerrero Jr. is now batting .320/.411/.605 for the season, and he’s just two homers behind Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and one behind Salvador Perez of the Royals for the major league lead. That blast was also the eighth home run allowed by Aroldis Chapman this season, which is a career high. The Blue Jays are now 7-0 in September and 31-20 in the second half. Toronto is now 14 games over .500 for the first time since 2016. The Jays will go for the four-game sweep on Thursday. 

As for the Yankees, they’ve lost five in a row and nine of their past 11, which comes on the heels of a 13-game win streak that vaulted them back into playoff position. While it may be cold comfort for the spiraling Yanks, rookie moundsman Luis Gil made franchise history: 

Gil wound up allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. He walked the bases loaded in the fourth, and three runs came around to score after Gil had left the game. 

In Fenway, Nathan Eovaldi turned in another dominant start, as he blanked the Rays for seven innings. He’s been on an exceptional roll of late: 

Playing a strong supporting role in the Red Sox’s 2-1 win over Tamp Bay was right fielder Hunter Renfroe. First, he hit a massive home run off a JT Chargois hanging slider in the eighth to give the Sox a 2-1 lead: 

And then in the ninth, Renfroe hosed Joey Wendle at third base for the walk-off assist: 

And with that Boston avoided the sweep and leapfrogged the rival Yankees for top wild card position. The top wild-card team of course gets to host the wild card game, so the stakes are notable. 

Whatever the specifics it’s looking increasingly like the tough AL East will produce three playoff teams in 2021. Those specifics, though, are where the intrigue is found, and that intrigue is increasing thanks to the opposing recent fortunes of the Yankees and Blue Jays. 

On Thursday, the Blue Jays will go for the sweep with José Berríos on the mound. The Yankees, meantime, will hope that Néstor Cortes can be their sorely needed stopper. 

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles


Subscribe to stay updated.