Meaningful September baseball?
Could have fooled a Blue Jays team that was ostensibly in the thick of things and a fan base that had jumped ship and stayed away in droves as their team nosedived through one of the most critical series of the season.
Three games ahead against the suddenly resurgent Texas Rangers, three games behind.
This time it was a disheartening 10-0 loss for the Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Rogers Center, a contest played in front of yet another small crowd, perhaps reflecting a restless fan base that has grown weary of frustration.
Since there was little reason to celebrate, many of the announced crowd of 25,495 cheered instead, especially because they were down 1-2-3 in the sixth period and their team was already down from a converted touchdown.
And as the losses pile up, the Jays are increasing their workload to make the playoffs as an insanely inconsistent season continues.
The “We’ll get them next time” refrain that has been the anthem of the 2023 season is becoming more false by the day, especially after losing 26-7 overall in the first three games of a four-game series that ends here on Thursday.
This should be a big series for the Jays, a springboard into a run to take some stress off the final two weeks of the season. Instead, everything has gone off the rails, most notably in the recent debacle when a team that claimed to be a playoff contender suffered its worst loss since an 11-0 loss to the Miami Marlins on June 19.
A third straight loss against an opponent they almost beat this week left the Jays 1.5 games behind the Rangers for the second AL wild-card spot and a full game behind the Seattle Mariners, who secured third place.
They’re still a playoff team, but it’s hard to get excited about the prospect right now. At 80-66, the Jays have three fewer wins than the 2022 team in 146 games and are on the verge of a fight for their postseason survival.
On Wednesday, the powerful Rangers took care of business the way good teams do: They took advantage of the opportunity. In that game, two home runs knocked out Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi – a three-run shot by Nathanial Lowe in the third and a two-run shot by Robbie Grossman in the sixth.
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Like on far too many nights, the Jays’ listless offense had no answer, yielding just three hits in six innings when the game was all but over.
And the uglier it got, the angrier the crowd became, quelling George Springer, Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. with boos in this quick-six game, a focal point for what this team has been doing offensively of late.
Manager John Schneider tried in vain to drum up some enthusiasm before the game, suggesting an early lead would be crucial.
“You have to try to take the lead,” said Schneider. “That’s us, you have to try to take the lead. That’s who we are, in a nutshell, and that’s the key to these guys.”
Early leadership? Maybe go to bed early.
No, the Jays aren’t done yet, even if it feels like a fan base is more disgusted than they have been in several years.
But through three quarters of an uncompetitive series against a team they’re chasing, the Blue Jays have done little to excite, a point underscored by the few thousand left to hit a ninth-inning home run Mitch Garver of the Rangers can be seen.
https://torontosun.com/sports/baseball/toronto-blue-jays/listless-blue-jays-take-meaning-out-of-meaningful-september-baseball-in-blowout-loss-to-rangers The blowout Blue Jays’ loss brings out boos