NEW YORK — Yankee Stadium is where good postseason scripts are written, and the Blue Jays just used it as a backdrop for their own dress rehearsal.
Wednesday night’s 6-1 win over the Yankees is what October will look like for Toronto. This team is built to pitch well, play well and give up a few more runs than other teams, which is the best blueprint we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Reaching the postseason is just the first step, but the Blue Jays continue to win in the Bronx. Wednesday marked a five-game winning streak. The Mariners, Rangers and Astros also won, but there are still seven games left between Seattle and Texas, and the Blue Jays’ recent win is their version of running out of time.
This game had all the classic Kevin Guzman traits, right down to the lack of offensive power, until New York’s bullpen completely fell apart in the eighth and ninth innings.
A year after Gausman was cursed with the worst batting luck in MLB history, he spent 2023 cursed with low RBI coverage. Regardless of what crimes Gausman committed in his past life to get him down this path, he overcame them with flying colors and put together one of the most dominant seasons in Blue Jays history.
“One, I’m impressed every time he does it. Two, he has a very good attitude for it,” said director John Schneider. “He doesn’t really allow moments or situations to get too big. I think that’s a big part of what makes him great.”
Gausman’s 232 strikeouts, while striking out 10 batters in six scoreless innings, are second only to Robbie Ray (248) and Roger Clemens (271, 292) in a single season in franchise history. He fits every definition of the word “ace,” but now is when it matters most.
“It also helps us play in meaningful games,” Gausman said. “Knowing that gives me more adrenaline. Honestly, I try to do better for my teammates than I do for myself. That’s where we get to. If you No matter how bad you feel, other people feel just as bad, if not worse.”
That needs to be the foundation for the Blue Jays in October. This squad ranks 13th in OPS and 14th in slugging percentage, so it’s not exactly built to get back into games with slugging power like the 2015-16 team did. . With this bullpen behind this rotation, there shouldn’t be a need for that.
Chad Green was at his best for the Blue Jays, Jordan Hicks topped the Yankees, and Erik Swanson allowed the only blemish: a solo home run in the ninth inning. Jordan Romano or Tim Maiza will be involved in this big moment in October, but the script goes something like this:
“Everything seems to be moving in our direction,” Whit Merrifield said. “The pitching was good, the offense was good, the defense was good, the base running was good. To put it as politely as possible, we played against a team that is taking itself more seriously towards the end of the season. must continue to do so.”
What is the role of the attacker? It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be something.
Wednesday’s version was a series of early hits by Kevin Kiermaier, George Springer and finally Bo Bichette, who started scorching the ball again at the end. This allowed Toronto to hold the lead until New York’s bullpen collapsed and gave up two runs in an ugly inning, something you don’t see this often with the Blue Jays’ bullpen built for the postseason.
But come October, some in baseball believe a certain offensive style is best suited for the big stage.
“People always say that at this time of year and in the postseason, contact is so important,” Schneider said. “It’s hard to string together multiple hits against a really good starting pitcher or a really good relief pitcher. People gravitate toward contact, but at the same time, it’s hard to string together multiple hits against a really good starting pitcher or a really good relief pitcher. The first part, the fit, is probably the most important.”
The Blue Jays fulfilled that first part Wednesday, giving up nine hits and six walks.
All that remains to turn this script into a blockbuster, as Merrifield so cleverly hinted, is to repeat it against a team that plays through October.