The Toronto Blue Jays managed to square their latest series with their nearest playoff challengers, the Tampa Bay Rays.
However, they face a tough task against the closest challengers for the American League East challengers, the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on Monday evening.
|What||New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays, Game One of Three|
|Where||Rogers Centre, Toronto, Canada|
|When||19:07 EDT, Monday September 26th|
|How to watch||YES, SNET, TVA Sports, MLBN|
George Springer launched two home runs in Sunday’s 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays carrying the Blue Jays back to a two-game lead in the American League Wild Card race. Following two losses to open the series, Toronto roared back to grab the final couple of games.
Keeping the two-game lead was hugely important to the Blue Jays given that they hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Rays after winning the season series 10-9. Prior to the 2021 season, Toronto invested in Springer by giving him a six-year, $150 million contract and he was supposed to represent one of the final pieces of the puzzle.
Since then the Blue Jays have added Hyun Jin Ryu, Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman and Matt Chapman but Springer is the star. A hero in Houston and part of their World Series win in 2017, he’s ideal for October and the postseason.
Speaking to MLB.com, Blue Jays’ general manager John Schneider said: “He’s been through it. He’s been through the biggest moments this game has to offer. He doesn’t get too high and doesn’t get too low. He’s the definition of a gamer when it gets to this part of the year. He’s been doing it for a long time, and he’s doing it now, which is great.”
The Yankees are facing a surplus of starting pitchers coming into the postseason but manager Aaron Boone says it would be tough to get Frankie Montas back in time for playoff rotation. One potential option for the Yankees would be to use Montas in an opener or relief role.
The Yankees placed Montas on the injured list with shoulder inflammation on Tuesday. He received a cortisone injection and was shut down from throwing for 10 days, putting him on schedule to pick up a baseball late next week, a few days before he’s eligible to return on October 2.
Since coming to the Yankees from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline, Montas has a 6.35 ERA and a WHIP of 1.54 in 39.3 innings across eight starts.
Boone spoke to the official New York Yankees website, and said: “I do think there’s a chance that he could have a role and impact us. It’s just a matter of how the next couple of weeks go.”
The Yankees will arrive at Rogers Centre close to securing the American League East title, while the Blue Jays are not far off confirming their place in the playoffs with their magic number down to four.
Toronto could end up meeting the Rays in the playoffs (the AL Wild Card spot) for a three-game series.
Pitcher Ross Stripling was full of praise for the Rays as he spoke to the official Blue Jays website: “It’s a tough place to play. They play their brand of baseball and they make you come to them. We lose the first two here and then we’re able to walk away with a split in crunch time.
“Just a resilient team through and through that’s relying on the experience from the last two years and ready to go make some noise in October is how it feels.”
The Blue Jays have beaten the Yankees in four out of the last five meetings, winning three games out of four at Yankee Stadium a month ago. New York leads Toronto 9-7 overall in the season, meaning the Blue Jays need to win all three games to take the season series overall.
The Yankees have won twice in their last two appearances at Rogers Centre. New York have won their last seven games as they look to close in on the AL East title following a period of poor form that made the last month interesting as the Yankees continued to throw games away and make their rivals close the gap.