It took them just over three months, but the Toronto Blue Jays have climbed the mountain and reclaimed top spot in the American League East.
After a decisive 9-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, the Blue Jays sit atop the AL East for the first time since April 4th when the Blue Jays were 2-0 to begin the season. Since then, the Blue Jays have been out of first place for 117 days.
It’s been a slow and methodical rise for the Blue Jays. For weekson end, they toiled along the .500 mark with this consistent pattern: win one, lose one, win two, lose three. It wasn’t until a seven-game win streak in early June which propelled the Blue Jays several games above the .500 mark.
Since losing that marathon 19-inning game against the Cleveland Indians on Canada Day, the Blue Jays are 16-6 and among the hottest teams in all of baseball. And with the trade deadline fast approaching, the Blue Jays couldn’t have picked a better time to heat up.
At one point on May 18th, the Blue Jays were as far as seven games back of the Baltimore Orioles for the division lead. But they’ve since closed that gap and moved a half game beyond the Orioles, with the potential for the Blue Jays to make it a 1.5 game lead with another victory this afternoon.
As you can see, it’s been a slow and steady rise for the Blue Jays, which coincides with the Baltimore Orioles slow and steady decline.
That now makes three days of the entire 2016 season in which the Blue Jays have led the division. By comparison, the Blue Jays sat atop the AL East for a total of 56 days in 2015. Last year, the Blue Jays took the division lead on August 23rd in Los Angeles and never looked back.
By comparison, the Blue Jays have reached first place about three weeks faster this summer than they did just one year ago. After 104 games this season, the Blue Jays are 14 games about .500. In 2015, the Blue Jays were a mere two games above .500.
This year, the Blue Jays are in a far better position to secure a playoff spot; even with the Baltimore Orioles a mere half game back of the division lead.
With 58 games left to play, there’s certainly a lot of baseball left to play. As we’ve seen in years’ prior, a lot can transpire in the final two months of the schedule. But it’s incredibly promising to see the Blue Jays finally putting it all together at one of the most crucial times of the season.
At times, the Blue Jays’ chase to the top of the division has been both antagonizing and exciting to watch. But now, the hunters have become the hunted in the AL East.
The final nine weeks of the schedule will determine whether the Blue Jays can defend their crown as American League East champions. And judging how the last eight weeks of the schedule have unfolded, it’s probably going to be a dogfight down the stretch.
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