Toronto Blue Jays Influence on Boston Red Sox Playoff Hopes

John BainCorrespondent IISeptember 14, 2011

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 14: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays slides into third base as Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox applies the tag too late during the fifth inning at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

With just 13 games remaining in Major League Baseball's regular season, most of the playoff spots have all but been officially decided except for two, the AL East champions and the AL Wild Card winners.

For the Toronto Blue Jays, they have one reason to keep playing hard, to be the "spoilers." The Jays can be the spoilers for the Red Sox or their guardian angel.

Currently the Boston Red Sox trail the New York Yankees by 4.5 games for the AL East lead and still have three games against New York to play this season. Meanwhile the Rays trail the Red Sox by just four games for the AL Wild Card. 

The Jays success is crucial for the Boston Red Sox if they want to win the division and pull away from the Rays in the race for the wild card. The Toronto Blue Jays play the Rays in the second last series of the season and those games could be crucial for the Red Sox playoff hopes, as they play the Yankees that same weekend.

This isn't to say the Red Sox can't play themselves to the AL East title, but a lot of things need to go wrong for the Yankees for that to happen. Either the Red Sox win their series with the Yankees and a couple more games while the Yankees lose out, or they don't have much hope without depending upon the Rays and Jays to do work for them.

The Jays can secure a Red Sox wild card win, if the Red Sox win their series against the Rays this weekend and the Jays win their series with the Rays next weekend.

If the Jays want to help the Red Sox to the AL East title they will need to win all of their remaining games against the Yankees and slow them down enough that the Red Sox can try and catch up.

The Jays can also ruin the Red Sox chances if they lose key remaining games against divisional opponents.

All in all, it is not fair to say that all of the Red Sox postseason hopes rests on the success of the Toronto Blue Jays down the stretch, but the Jays do have the ability to play spoiler for Boston or can play to help the Red Sox win.