Today is the final day of August and the Toronto Blue Jays stand alone in first place in the American League East.
Take a minute and soak that in.
As of this moment, Toronto is a game-and-a-half clear of the Yankees and heading into Cleveland to take on the Indians after drubbing the Detroit Tigers 29-6 over a three-game set at the Rogers Centre over the weekend.
While the offensive firepower – supplied in large part by Edwin Encarnacion, who went 6-for-10 with four home runs and 11 RBI in the series – will get the headlines and play best on SportsCentre, the fact that the pitching staff yielded just 13 hits and six runs over the weekend shouldn’t be overlooked.
R.A. Dickey continued his strong second half on Friday, Drew Hutchison delivered another home-field gem on Saturday after a brief stay in Buffalo and Mark Buehrle picked up his 14th victory on Sunday, tossing six innings of five-hit ball while getting ample support. Even more impressive than the effort turned in by the starters was the work done by the bullpen, where five pitchers combined to go seven-and-a-third over the three games, giving up just three hits, two walks and nary a run while striking out six.
Roberto Osuna picked up his 16th save on Friday – his 10th this month – to continue his tremendous run of success and lower his ERA for the month of August to 0.79. If he’s not the Rookie of the Month, something is wrong with the voting process.
Aaron Sanchez continued to excel in the eighth inning role and righties Mark Lowe, Bo Schultz and Liam Hendricks all answered the call with nearly flawless performances at different points. These are all little things that tend to go unnoticed when the offence sends 11 balls over the fence in three games, but it’s the pitching that is going to be the biggest key to the Blue Jays chances going forward.
But right now, on this the 31st day of August in the year two thousand and 15, those chances look really, really good and it’s getting harder and harder to contain the excitement.
Toronto hasn’t been this close to making the playoffs since the last time they were in the playoffs and without getting all “cart before the horse” or “way to go and jinx them, dumbass” here, it’s tough to see how they don’t reach the postseason this season.
They’re a game-and-a-half up on the Yankees, who are four up on Texas in the Wild Card race, who are another game-and-a-half up on the Minnesota Twins. While those six games remaining between Toronto and New York will likely determine who wins the American League East, the Jays don’t have any other dates against teams with a winning record (as of right now) left on the schedule.
They play two more on the road than they do at Rogers Centre, but they’re 20-games to the good on home turf and you’d have to think that if they manage to go .500 over their final 32 games, Toronto will see a playoff series roll into town for the first time in 22 years.
Their Magic Number is 32. Let the scoreboard watching and daily updates begin!