The Blue Jays Complete Their Takeover of First Place in the AL East

The first place Toronto Blue Jays. The Toronto Blue Jays are in first place. How weird is it to hear that today? Even as I write this, it’s still quite unbelievable.

For a team that was on the periphery of contention just a few weeks ago, they’ve thrust themselves into sole possession of first place in the American League East.

The Blue Jays’ 10-game win streak combined with the Yankees’ current 3-7 slide has sent the Blue Jays into first place in the division for the first time all season. Prior to last night’s win, at no point during the 2015 season did the Blue Jays sit alone in first place.


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But now they are.

In fact, the last time the Blue Jays sat atop the American League East this deep into the season was late 1993. And the last time the Blue Jays even held a playoff spot this late in the season was over 16 years ago; August 12th, 1999.

To many, I think that the AL East division title was a white whale for the Blue Jays. At many points this season, the division was there for the taking, but the Blue Jays simply could not take advantage and capitalize on their weaker opponents.

Then as soon as last week, again the focus turned towards potentially catching the New York Yankees. But virtually everything would have to go right for the Blue Jays and everything would have to go wrong for the Yankees for that to take place.

Now the Blue Jays have seemingly pulled off the impossible, and they’ve done it much, much sooner than anybody anticipated they could have. Best case scenario, if the Blue Jays played well against the Yankees down the stretch, they may have had a shot at the division title.

But here we are on August 13th 2015, and the Toronto Blue Jays are not only the best team in their division right now, but they may be one of the best teams in the entire American League.

It really can’t be stated enough just how incredible of a feat this was for the Blue Jays. They were helped out in this case by the Yankees’ recent slide, but even if the Yankees had not fallen apart at the worst possible time, the Blue Jays would still be in a playoff spot.

But the work here is not done. Although it was a tremendous accomplishment to overtake the Yankees for the division lead, the Blue Jays cannot and should not take their foot off the gas pedal.

The Yankees are notorious for being a team that simply finds a way to win, and by no means is their season over or have the Blue Jays wrapped up the division. If the Yankees overcame all the odds to get where they are right now, they surely still have something left in the tank.


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The Blue Jays did encounter some degree of luck along their march into first place, but it also involved a lot of skill.

It’s very rare for a team to rattle off not only one, but a pair of 10+ win streaks in a season. Many experts say playoff-bound teams typically need to go on two big runs during the season, and the Blue Jays have already crossed their item off that to-do list.
Unlike the Blue Jays’ previous winning streak, this one appears to be much more sustainable. They’re scoring enough runs to win, but their pitching staff (both rotation and bullpen) has been utterly dominant during this stretch.

During their last win streak, the Jays scored an average of 8 runs per game, but they were also giving up 3.63 runs per game. This time around, the Blue Jays have averaged 5.5 runs per game while giving up only 2 runs per game.

Earlier in the season, the Blue Jays scored a boatload of runs, but they were also just barely squeaking by in many cases. With a solid defense and a stingy pitching staff, these games are often already in the bag before the final pitch is even thrown.

What the Blue Jays have just done is an incredible accomplishment. They definitely deserve to take a moment to let it all sink in that they are now in first place, all by themselves, in late August. 

Their next (and perhaps biggest) task for the Blue Jays will be attempting to wield off the Yankees, Angels and
any other teams who could threaten the Blue Jays’ chances of making the
postseason.

The initial thrill of the chase for first place may be over, but this is where the real work begins.


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Image via Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

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