5 Ways the Blue Jays Can Still Play Spoiler Down the Stretch

Matthew Appleby@@applebyincContributor IIAugust 25, 2013

5 Ways the Blue Jays Can Still Play Spoiler Down the Stretch

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    There is not much left for the Toronto Blue Jays to play for in 2013. Unfortunately, despite big expectations—or perhaps partially due to them—the Blue Jays have stumbled to a 58-73 record and currently sit 15 games back of the American League Wild Card.

    There is nothing left for the Blue Jays to do but play meaningless baseball, aim to win as many low-pressure games as they can, attempt to stay healthy and enjoy the offseason. In sports jargon, this is called playing spoiler, and it is certainly not something that teams want to play.

    Still, the Blue Jays have a number of ways they can win games that will do little to impact their future, but that may alter the playoff picture. With the other four AL East teams still in the playoff picture, they have a number of opportunities to try and eliminate their division rivals.

September 17-19 vs. New York Yankees

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    The New York Yankees will be paying a visit to the Rogers Centre in September, a place they have only been once this season.

    The Yankees took two of three games from the Blue Jays when they came north of the border in April. The two teams have met 13 times in total, and New York has dominated the season series 11-1.

    The Yanks are currently four games back of the AL Wild Card, and by September, this series could be a crucial three games for them. Two or three wins for the Blue Jays could sink the Yankees’ hopes of postseason baseball. For Blue Jays fans, taking away playoff baseball from the Yankees could be a silver lining to a disappointing season.

September 2-4 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks are seven games behind the NL Wild Card, but you can bet that they have this three-game homestand with the Blue Jays circled as three potential wins.

    The Blue Jays have struggled on the road this season with a record of 26-41, and the Diamondbacks will need to have a strong series to improve their playoff hopes.

    A three-game sweep by the Blue Jays would nearly mathematically eliminate the Diamondbacks. The perfect opportunity to play spoiler.

    The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks have yet to meet this season, but their first series may be the stepping stone that sends Arizona into the postseason or the one that eliminates it.

September 24-26 vs. Baltimore Orioles

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    The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have seen plenty of each other this season. The AL East rivals have met 13 times this season, and Toronto leads the series 7-6. In those games, the Blue Jays have outscored the Orioles by 10 runs, but they have yet to find consistent success against them.

    The Orioles are currently two games back of the AL Wild Card and will be fighting for the playoff lives right until the end of September. This series in the last week of the regular season may be the perfect opportunity for the Blue Jays to play spoiler against a division rival.

    One of the teams that the Orioles are fighting for a Wild Card spot is the Tampa Bay Rays, another AL East rival. If the Blue Jays spoil the Orioles’ chances, it may open a door for Tampa Bay. But the Blue Jays will have their chance to spoil Tampa Bay’s plan as well.

September 27-29 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Something in the AL East has to give. The Blue Jays are out, but some combination of the Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays will be in.

    In late September, in what could possibly be a crucial series, the Tampa Bay Rays will pay a visit to the Rogers Centre. The Rays have won 10 of the 16 games between the two teams this season, including four wins in Toronto.

    The Rays are currently tied for the AL East pennant with the Red Sox and will be in a battle right until the playoff start. Look for this series to be ultra-important for the Rays, making it a prime opportunity for the Jays to play spoiler.

September 20-22 vs. Boston Red Sox

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    The Blue Jays' tour of the AL East will continue with the Boston Red Sox, as the two teams are set to play a series in Boston from September 20-22.

    The Red Sox are tied for the AL East lead and will need to play superb baseball for the rest of the season. The Red Sox have been extremely strong at home with a 40-23 record and have taken nine out of 16 games from the Blue Jays this season.

    Although the Blue Jays have little to play for, they will have plenty of opportunities to spoil the chances of their AL East division rivals. Then, like most years, fans will wait patiently until September is over and wait until next year.