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Game Recap 37.0: Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues – Oilers Nation

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Some free lessons there to say the least. Final Score: 2-1 Blues

After picking up a big win in Dallas and quieting the nerves of Oilers fans everywhere, the boys were back at it against another tough opponent in the St. Louis Blues. Obviously, going up against the defending champs is never an easy task, something we saw on full display here tonight, but I also felt like the Oilers had a chance to close out a win provided that they played the way they can. When they’re crossing their ‘T’s and dotting their ‘I’s the Oilers are a tough team to handle, but as we all know, the problem comes with doing it consistently. Over the course of their four-game losing streak, Edmonton gave up far too many goals and seemed generally disjointed in their own end, often shooting themselves in the foot and ruining their chances at a win just as we saw with the wasted comebacks against Buffalo, Carolina, and Minnesota, something that simply could not happen again against the Blues. I believed in a win and I believed in our boys!

The last time these two teams played, Jake Allen stole the show for the Blues and I was really hoping for another quick start for the Oilers that could put the netminder back on his heels a little bit. Unfortunately, it was the visitors that were back on their heels early on as defensive lapses gave the Blues all kinds of extra opportunities to maintain the zone and fire pucks on net. Thankfully, Koskinen was rock solid in net, but it would have been nice if his teammates had been smarter with their puck choices as to not lean on him so much. To put it another way, this thing would have been ugly without him. Moving into the second period, things didn’t get much better as the Blues continued to dominate on the shot clock while the Oilers hung on for dear life and hoped for the best, seemingly unable to throw any kind of counterpunch whatsoever. Frankly, the fact that they were only down by a single goal heading into the third period was a testament to Koskinen’s game rather than a tip of the cap to the team in front of him. This game was lopsided as hell, but with their goaltender playing lights out the Oilers still somehow had a chance at points they didn’t deserve.

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Down by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers were going to need to be either way better than they had been for the first two periods or hope for some kind of miracle because this game was not as close as the score might indicate. And while the Oilers inched their way closer in the dying moments, there was no comeback to be had on this night as the Blues were simply too strong defensively and did an excellent job of capitalizing on their opportunities. From start to finish, the Blues made better choices with the puck, supported each other well in all three zones, and showed the Oilers exactly how a contender looks when they play defence.

The wrap.

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Photo: BlueMan.com
  • James Neal scored late in the third period to bring the Oilers back to within a single goal after finding a loose puck in the scramble and sinking in behind Allen when he slid way out of the net.
  • Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his third straight start and looking to build upon the strong performance he put in against the Stars on Monday night. And while he didn’t get the win that he probably deserved considering the performance he put in, it is very easy and obvious to say that he was the best Edmonton Oiler tonight by a substantial margin. Full stop. Case closed. To put it lightly, had it not been for Koskinen, who knows what the score might have been and the fact that the game ended as close as it did was because he stood on his head and kept the team in it. Koskinen finished the night with 42 saves and a .955 save%.
  • Adam Larsson was easily the Oilers best defenceman in my mind and played tough minutes in all situations. He was even forced to moonlight as a goaltender for a moment in the second period after he made a huge kick save that stopped a sure goal for the Blues.
  • Big ups to Zack Kassian on his 500th game, which is even more incredible to think about when you consider his pre-Oilers history. Congrats on the milestone, sir!
  • The Oilers were great on the PK, killing off all five penalties they took. A lot of the credit can go to Koskinen for those kills, but it’s only fair to admit that the team was very good when down a man.
  • I thought Caleb Jones was steady on the third pairing tonight and he made some nice reads with the puck that should be acknowledged.
Photo: BlueMan.com
  • Brayden Schenn opened the scoring for the Blues with a breakaway goal after sneaking his way behind the Oilers’ defence and snapping a shot past Koskinen after the visitors were unable to gain entry to the offensive zone and gave the puck up at the blue line.
  • All night long, Edmonton had a real knack for giving the puck up at the opposing blue line and that’s exactly what happened on MacKenzie MacEachern’s third period goal. As we saw with the first one, the Oilers simply could not gain entry into the offensive zone and gave the puck away near the line. From there, the Blues were able to turn the play around and bury one at the other end, punishing the Oilers with a pair of avoidable goals.
  • The Oilers were way too loose defensively throughout this game and it gave the Blues all kinds of undeserved offensive opportunities that were completely needless. As has been the trend of late, the boys were flying the zone too early and the defencemen were then forced into plays they shouldn’t have been making.
  • Edmonton desperately needed their power play to come through with a goal tonight but they just couldn’t get one in any of their four chances with the man advantage. That said, I know a few of their power plays were abbreviated but I didn’t necessarily feel like they were getting much done with the time they did have either.
  • For the second game in a row, I have NOT been a fan of the Khaira-Nuge-Chiasson line as they got absolutely dominated at even strength. I don’t know what Tippett sees in that trio but clearly he and I are not on the same page on this one.
  • There were a bunch of free lessons for Ethan Bear tonight as he had a hard time dealing with St. Louis’ relentless pressure in the defensive end. And while that may seem like a negative thing to say, these are the games he’ll have to work through as he continues to build his young NHL resume. He’ll get through them and I feel like going through games like this will only make him better in the long run.
  • I’m going to go ahead and ask that Ken Holland make a move soon because watching the Oilers get caved in at 5-on-5 has been really tough to watch.

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1ST PERIOD

TIMETEAMDETAILSSCORE
No Scoring

2ND PERIOD

TIMETEAMDETAILSSCORE
08:04St. LouisBrayden Schenn (15) ASST: Vince Dunn (5), Jaden Schwartz (16)0-1

3RD PERIOD

TIMETEAMDETAILSSCORE
06:23St. LouisMacKenzie MacEachern (6) ASST: Ryan O’Reilly (26), David Perron (19)0-2
18:10EdmontonJames Neal (16) ASST: Zack Kassian (12), Leon Draisaitl (37)1-2

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Blue Jays announce lineup for Game 1 of AL wild-card series vs. Rays – Sportsnet.ca

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The Toronto Blue Jays have chosen who they’ll go to war with as they kick off Game 1 of their American League wild-card series vs. the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

Pint-sized slugger Alejandro Kirk draws into the club’s lineup and will get the start at designated hitter, while trade-deadline acquisition Jonathan Villar will play second base. The Blue Jays are trotting out eight right-handed hitters after lead-off man Cavan Biggio against Rays ace Blake Snell.

The full starting lineup is as follows:

Third base: Cavan Biggio

Shortstop: Bo Bichette

Centre field: Randal Grichuk

First base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Left field: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Right field: Teoscar Hernandez

Second base: Jonathan Villar

Designated hitter: Alejandro Kirk

Catcher: Danny Jansen

Pitcher: Matt Shoemaker

Catch Game 1 of the Blue Jays’ series vs. the Rays on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN Now.

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Examining the strategic decisions Blue Jays will likely face in Game 1 – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – Already, the strategic gears are moving for the Toronto Blue Jays and their first-round playoff opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays.

On Monday, the Blue Jays announced it’ll be Matt Shoemaker, not Hyun Jin Ryu, who starts Game 1 of the wild-card round at Tropicana Field. Ryu emerged from his final regular season start “a little sore,” according to manager Charlie Montoyo, but the left-hander was still available to pitch if needed. Instead, the Blue Jays opted to give him an extra day of rest in a decision that will have consequences all series long.

So begins the tactical back-and-forth between Montoyo and his longtime colleague, Kevin Cash of the Rays.

“They want to kick your butt every time you play them,” Montoyo said. “But I have the same feeling.”

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Starting with the Blue Jays’ lineup, here’s a closer look at some of the strategic decisions Montoyo and his staff will face in Game 1.

Does Alejandro Kirk play?

It’s only been 25 plate appearances, but Alejandro Kirk has impressed at the plate with a home run and a .983 OPS. Now, the Blue Jays must decide whether they believe that small sample portends further success at the plate for the 21-year-old. Considering how well Kirk has handled velocity so far, his chances of starting against left-hander Blake Snell seem good.

With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. slated to start at first base, the Blue Jays will have the DH spot open should they want Danny Jansen’s experience at catcher. But Kirk did work well with Shoemaker last week, so a start behind the plate can’t be ruled out entirely.

How soon does Robbie Ray start warming up?

Technically speaking, Shoemaker is the starting pitcher Tuesday. It’s a big job, and one Shoemaker’s definitely excited to accept, but this is far from an ordinary outing.

The only way Shoemaker’s pitching deep into this game is if he stays incredibly efficient and the Blue Jays take a lopsided lead early. Otherwise, it may well be a relatively short appearance for a couple of reasons. First, Shoemaker has made only one start since returning from the injured list, and he’s only been stretched out to 54 pitches.

Second, the Blue Jays can’t afford to let Rays hitters get comfortable, so they’re better off asking multiple pitchers go max effort for relatively short stints. In his start against the New York Yankees last week, Shoemaker touched 96 m.p.h., so the stuff is there even if he’s not fully stretched out yet.

But at – or ideally before – the soonest sign of trouble, the Blue Jays will need to think about who’s next out of the bullpen. At this point, the odds seem good that the first pitcher up could be Robbie Ray, whose electric but erratic arm the Rays haven’t seen this year.

With Shoemaker starting, there’s a good chance Cash loads up his lineup with left-handed hitters. By bringing in Ray, the Blue Jays would gain the platoon advantage – or force the Rays to empty their bench.

“That’s one thing when you play the Rays: they’re tough to match up against because they’re loaded,” Montoyo said. “They really are. Whoever comes off the bench to hit is a pretty good hitter, too.”

When and how does Pearson become a factor?

The Blue Jays are relying on Shoemaker in a big way after just one appearance back from the injured list. Why not do the same with Nate Pearson? The right-hander impressed in his first outing in five-plus weeks, touching 101 m.p.h. while flashing a plus slider.

When he’s on, that combination is extremely tough to hit, so it’s easy to see why the Blue Jays may be tempted to use Pearson. But they’ll want to be careful with him considering he missed extended time with a forearm strain, so there’s seemingly a good chance he can only pitch once in the wild-card round. With that in mind, the Blue Jays will need to be selective.

Plus, Pearson’s been a starter for his entire pro career, so the Blue Jays will want to give him ample time to warm up instead of rushing him into a game mid-inning.

How do the Blue Jays manage the bullpen?

Because the Blue Jays locked up a playoff spot Thursday, they were able to use the weekend to ensure their heavily used bullpen got a breather.

“That was one of the good things about clinching,” Montoyo said. “They’re all rested going into the series, so that makes me feel really good about it. Anybody can come in at any time.”

Still, that doesn’t tell us who will get the call in high-leverage spots. As the season has progressed, the answer to that question has changed constantly for Montoyo depending on who’s healthy and pitching well. There’s no reason to believe the playoffs will be any different ­– only now the stakes are higher than ever before.

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How they made it back: A look at everything since the Toronto Blue Jays last made the playoffs – TSN

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This wasn’t supposed to be the year the Toronto Blue Jays took the big leap forward.

But, like so many other things in 2020, here we are.

When MLB announced it was expanding the postseason from 10 to 16 teams in an effort to recoup lost revenue on top of a drastically reduced schedule, it changed everything. No longer were the young Blue Jays a year or two away from competing for a spot in October. Almost instantly, the playoffs were there for the taking.

They’re far from perfect. But in a season like this they don’t have to be.

With Toronto set to play playoff baseball for the first time since 2016 later on Tuesday, here is a look at their most significant periods of the last four years..


 

The changing of the guard

Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were among the most feared middle-of-the-order duos in baseball for years. From 2010 to 2016, they combined for nine All-Star appearances, 480 homers and 1,307 RBI. Both were essential in Toronto’s playoff runs but nothing lasts forever. Especially when it comes down to money.

Bautista and Encarnacion were scheduled to become free agents at the end of 2016 and re-signing both seemed like a difficult task. Bautista told reporters the previous February that he was not a believer in hometown discounts. What the right fielder was asking for was never made publicly clear, but it seemed like he was aiming high. On the other hand, Encarnacion was coming off 42 home runs and a career-high 127 RBIs, so it didn’t seem like he’d be accepting much of a bargain-deal, either.

In mid-November, the Jays reached a three-year, $33 million deal with designated hitter Kendrys Morales, all but eliminating the chance of Encarnacion returning. In January, he signed a multi-year deal with Cleveland, the same team that ended the Jays’ season months earlier.

Atkins: Signing of Morales “makes things slightly less likely for Edwin”

Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins spoke Friday and said the signing of Kendrys Morales decreases the likelihood of Edwin Encarnacion coming back to Toronto, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility.

Bautista ended up returning to the Jays one a one-year deal but struggled mightily in 2017, hitting just .203 with a .366 slugging percentage.

With Encarnacion gone and Bautista a shell of himself, the results showed. The Jays went from fourth in homers and ninth in runs scored to 10th in longballs and 26th in runs. The lack of offence was apparent right away as the Jays scored more than four runs just twice in their first 10 games. They dropped nine of those and finished fourth in the AL East at 76-86.

A glimpse of the future

In July of 2015, the Blue Jays signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as a free agent at 16 years old. He quickly shot up the Jays’ system and became one of the best prospects in baseball in the years that followed.

With Josh Donaldson’s contract set to expire at the end of 2018 and few signs of friendly dialogue between him and the front office, many felt Guerrero was the natural successor at the hot corner.

When Toronto wrapped up spring training with a two-game series in Montreal against the St. Louis Cardinals in late March, fans were abuzz at the possibility of seeing the 19-year-old phenom. They didn’t just want to look ahead to the future, but also be reminded of the past. Guerrero’s father spent the first eight seasons of his Hall-of-Fame career in Montreal and was the franchise’s last true superstar before the team moved to Washington D.C. in 2004.

Vlad Jr. received a standing ovation upon entering the game in the seventh inning but didn’t pick up a hit in his first two at-bats. Looking back, all anyone remembers was day two, anyway.

He entered the game as a defensive replacement again and eventually stepped to the plate in the ninth inning with the score still 0-0 against hard-throwing Cardinals righty Jack Flaherty.

Flaherty fell behind in the count 1-0 and came back with a slider in the second pitch of the at-bat. Except he left it up and out over the plate and Guerrero Jr. didn’t miss it, barrelling one up into the left centre field seats just like his father had done so many times before for a walk-off winner.

Must See: Vladdy Jr. walks it off

In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, Vladimir Guererro Jr. hit a solo home run to lift the Blue Jays over the Cardinals at the Big O in Montreal.

“You don’t see many celebrations in spring training games. That was pretty neat,” then manager John Gibbons told reporters.

Jays shake things up

In case things weren’t clear the season before, the Jays launched themselves into a full rebuild in 2018. They got out to a fast 12-5 start but ended the month of May six games under .500 and fourth in the AL East. With little hope of competing, on came the trades.

Utilityman Steve Pearce was the first to go in late June, landing with the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Santiago Espinal. Next came J.A. Happ in the midst of an All-Star season, who was sent to the New York Yankees for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney. The Jays also traded reliever Seunghwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies that day.

Toronto’s next trade had more to do with just baseball. On May 8, star closer Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with a single count of assault. He was subsequently placed on administrative leave and later suspended 75 games under MLB-MLBPA’s joint Domestic Violence Policy.

Less than a week before he was permitted to return, the Houston Astros acquired Osuna in exchange for right-hander Ken Giles and pitching prospects David Paulino and Hector Perez.

“We do feel a responsibility to the fans and we do feel empathy for the fans and we ultimately work for the fans,” general manager Ross Atkins told reporters. “That’s how we do our jobs. We are human and it is very difficult for accusations not to influence us in some way.

“Having said that, this made sense for the organization from a baseball perspective.”

The prosecution withdrew the charge against Osuna later that year in exchange for a one-year agreement he stay away from the mother of his child and continue counselling.

Toronto’s next big trade was one that fans saw coming for a while, but it wasn’t the most popular of moves at the time. In the midst of his second injury-plagued season in a row and hampered by a calf strain that saw his trade value depreciate exponentially, the Jays dealt former MVP Josh Donaldson to Cleveland for a player to be named later.

And nothing else.

Atkins: Trade with Cleveland for Donaldson provided ‘the best return’

The Blue Jays parted ways with former MVP Josh Donaldson in a deal that sent him to Cleveland and on Saturday, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins explained the deal from Toronto’s perspective after a question from Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons.

Despite elite production for the majority of his four seasons with the Blue Jays, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro elected not to trade the three-time All-Star that winter citing a desire to remain competitive but had little reason to hang onto him once the team fell out of contention and chances of reaching an extension became slim to none.

Their hands might have been tied, but it was still a disappointing split given all Donaldson accomplished in his time as a Jay.

New leadership

Toronto finished the 2018 season at 73-89 and placed fourth in the AL East for the second year in a row. Change had been the theme for the organization lately and it kept coming.

In the final days of the 2018 season, the Jays announced John Gibbons would not be back as manager, extinguishing one of the final flames from the playoff runs a couple seasons before.

If there was ever a guy who deserved a shot as big league manager, it was Charlie Montoyo. He appeared in over 1,000 minor league games as a player and spent over two decades in the Tampa Bay Rays organization at pretty much every level imaginable. Except as a Major League manager. So off he went to Toronto.

Phillips: Montoyo is all about player development

TSN Baseball Insider Steve Phillips was on OverDrive on TSN 1050 and says that new Jays manager Charlie Montoyo has 18 years of management in the minor levels, and is a player development type of manager.

Except as Major League manager. So off he went to Toronto.

“Charlie is passionate about the game, with a superior ability to connect and relate, and we are confident he will have an overwhelmingly positive influence on Blue Jays players and staff,” Atkins said at the time of Montoyo’s hiring.

The future arrives

Anticipation of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette had been building for years by the time spring training 2019 rolled around. Neither were expected to break camp and head north but it was a matter of when, not if, they’d be joining the big club that season.

Miraculously – or not – Vladdy got his call after spending just enough time in Buffalo to gain an extra year of team control. Regarded as the consensus top prospect in baseball and probably the most anticipated prospect in Jays history, Guerrero made his debut on April 26 against the Oakland Athletics in from of nearly 30,000 fans at Rogers Centre.

Guerrero picked up his first hit on a double in the ninth inning and came around to score the winning run on a walk-off homer by Brandon Drury.

“Just the way I dreamed it,” Guerrero told reporters after the game.

When the dust settled, Vlad Jr. finished his rookie season with 15 homers and a batting average of .272. He had his moments, but he didn’t set the world on fire like many were expecting.

But Bichette did.

On July 29, Bichette got his call and picked up a hit in his first Major League at-bat. Then he kept on hitting.

On Aug. 8, Bichette set an MLB record by doubling in his ninth consecutive game and also upped his hitting streak to 11 games to start his career.

“We’re watching history, that’s what he’s doing,” Montoyo told reporters.

MLB: Yankees 12, Blue Jays 6

Bo Bichette continued to break records as he extended his hitting streak to 11-games with his first homer at home and then became the first player in MLB history with a double in nine consecutive games, but it wasn’t enough as Gio Urshela hit pair of two-run home runs to help lead the Yankees past the Jays.

The injury bug would bite the young shortstop later on in the season but he still finished his rookie campaign with an absurd .311/.358/.571 slash line in 46 games.

With Bichette and Guerrero up and contributing, light was starting to emerge at the end of the tunnel for the Jays.

Reloading in the rotation

Despite the arrival of Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio, the Jays still struggled through the 2019 season and were once again sellers as the trade deadline approached.

Marcus Stroman had been steady in starting-fives often filled with question marks over the years but having been burned a year earlier on the Donaldson deal, Toronto seemed to want to cash in before it was too late. On July 28, off Stroman went to the New York Mets for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. The next big name to go was the oft-injured Aaron Sanchez, who went to Houston in exchange for Derek Fisher.

As the Jays hobbled to yet another disappointing season with gaping holes in the rotation, Atkins and Shapiro did something they hadn’t done much of during their time in Toronto so far. They spent.

Toronto made its biggest free agent splash in years, signing former Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four-year, $80 million deal.

“We’ve got an ace,” Montoyo said of the move.

He wasn’t kidding. Ryu won the National League ERA crown at 2.32 and finished second in Cy Young voting in 2019.

Ryu excited to work with Blue Jays’ young core

Hyun-jin Ryu says he’s really excited to be a part of the Blue Jays this season and has already felt very welcomed. He’s looking forward to playing with such a young core and says he’s been able to raise his pitch count with his off-season work.

It was a dramatic pivot from their free agent signings in the past and signified the Jays felt they were ready to start contending. Maybe not immediately, but it was on the horizon.

Then, everything changed.

The landscape shifts

COVID-19 hit the sports world hard in mid-March and threw everything into flux.

Baseball especially.

Weeks of uncertainty turned into months. By all accounts, baseball came this close to not having a season after the league and players’ union struggled to come to an agreement on finances. When 2020 finally got the green light, the two sides agreed to an expanded postseason structure that would see 16 teams play October baseball as opposed to 10.

That changed everything for Toronto. Three extra playoff spots in the American League suddenly meant the Jays weren’t just hoping to contend – they were expected to.

But before they went searching for a playoff spot, they needed to find a home. COVID-19 made international travel difficult and the Canada-U.S. border was no different.

The Blue Jays were allowed to hold summer camp at Rogers Centre but playing regular season games there was a different story. If the Jays were to play at home, they’d need special approval from the Canadian federal government to circumvent the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entering the country. On July 18, six days to Opening Day, they were denied.

Now what?

Dunedin was a logical backup option, but a surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida and ballpark without a roof in the mid-day summer heat made that a challenge. Big league venues like Pittsburgh and Baltimore were possibilities until that was nixed by local health authorities.

Atkins says changes to Sahlen Field are ‘jaw dropping’

Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins says his jaw dropped when he first saw the updates that were made to Sahlen Field and says tonight they’ll get an idea of whether the additional lighting they’ve brought in will be enough. He also provides an update on Ken Giles and why he might start throwing sooner than later.

That left Triple-A Sahlen Field, originally the planned alternate training site facility, as one of the only viable options remaining. Just hours before their first game of the season in Tampa Bay, a decision was made. The Jays would play their 2020 home games in Buffalo.

Try explaining that one at the start of the year.

A giant step forward

The Jays got off to a slow start in 2020 and things looked grimmer by the day as the injuries mounted. Things got worse when Toronto dropped two games on Aug. 17 to fall four games below .500 at 7-11. With the season hanging in the balance the following day in Baltimore, Ryu delivered the kind of performance the Jays paid $80 million for, allowing just one run over six innings in an eventual 7-2 win. From there, the Bluebirds took flight.

That kicked off a six-game winning streak and helped get to them one game over .500 as of Aug. 26, well within the playoff picture. The front office took notice.

The next day, the Blue Jays acquired proven starter Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later. And that was only the beginning.

On Aug. 31, the Jays were as active on trade deadline day as they’d been in years, picking up veterans Robbie Ray, Jonathan Villar and Ross Stripling in three separate trades.

“Obviously, had things in the win-loss record gone differently, we may not have added as much. Maybe there would have been other opportunities, but we felt very good coming into spring training, as you saw in our off-season acquisitions. We wanted to be in this position,” Atkins told reporters.

With a winning record and a re-loaded roster, there was really only one thing left keeping the Jays from returning to the playoffs – the New York Yankees.

The 2020 MLB season operated under circumstances far from normal and scheduling was no different. Toronto didn’t have a game against the Yankees for the first month-plus of the season, but once early September hit, they were set to play them 10 times in fewer than 20 days.

The Jays went just 24-33 against the Yankees the last three seasons and were outscored by a total of 80 runs. If struggles continued in 2020, it could cost the Blue Jays a playoff spot.

Whether it was catching the injury-plagued Yankees at the right time or Toronto simply being a better team than in years past – or both – the Jays held their own. They went 5-5 against New York and clinched their seventh postseason appearance in franchise history with a 4-1 victory over those Yankees.

How did Jays exceed expectations to make playoffs?

Before the season, many projected Toronto to have a sub-500 season and well out of the post-season picture. How were the Jays able to exceed expectations and clinch a spot? TSN Blue Jays reporter Scott Mitchell has more.

“We keep believing in ourselves,” Montoyo said. “It’s awesome. I’m so proud of this group. I’m the happiest guy right now.”

The Jays will take on the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-three wild card round series beginning Tuesday evening. While they did play Tampa Bay relatively even during the season, facing the trio of Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton backed by one of baseball’s best bullpens isn’t an easy task.

But neither is anything in 2020, and yet here they are.

Jays fans have had to wait four years for their team to return to the playoffs. Regardless of how things go this season, they shouldn’t have to wait near as long next time.

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