Bo Bichette lights up as the Blue Jays sweep the doubleheader against the Orioles

Given the wildcard implications, a Blue Jays-Orioles game on Labor Day might have been the biggest game of the day. It wasn’t just one game in Baltimore on Monday, though, as the two American League East contenders squared off in a doubleheader. Despite rain for most of the day, they were able to pull off both games.

The Blue Jays managed a sweep (7-3 and 8-4) that could be quite significant. Let’s delve into.

Bichette stars for Jays

The first game was fun. The Orioles jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Anthony Sandtander’s first-inning home run. The Blue Jays would score a single run in each second, third and fifth to make it 3-1 heading into sixth. The Orioles would score one in the sixth, but the Blue Jays never let them get close and scored a sure run in the eighth and three more in the ninth to round out their 7-3 win.

Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman was fine, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and no walks. George Springer went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and Teoscar Hernandez homered. Oh, and Bo Bichette went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

That was just in the first game. In the second, Bichette again collected three hits, but this time all three were home runs.

This was the 12th time this season that a player has a three-homer game, though we hadn’t seen one since June 30. What about that? There were 12 three-homer games before July, none in July or August, and now we have the first one in September.

This was the 25th three-home run game by a Blue Jays player. The most recent was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doing it on April 13 of this season. This was only the second time in franchise history that a shortstop has done so, as Bichette joins Chris Woodward (Aug. 7, 2002).

On the day, Bichette went 6-for-10 with three home runs, three runs and seven RBIs.

Playoff Implications

Surely the Blue Jays’ main goal in the regular season is to win the American League East title. They came into play Monday six games behind the Yankees for first place and one game behind the Rays for second. Both the Yankees and Rays won, so the top three now look like this:

  • Yankees, 81-54
  • Rays, 75-58, 5 games back
  • Blue Jays, 75-59, 5 1/2 games back

Plus, this is potentially an important day in the wild card race. The Mariners entered the game Monday ranked first with the Rays and Blue Jays ranking second and third, respectively. The Orioles were 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays for the final AL playoff spot.

The Orioles are now 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays for the third wild card. If they had swept the series, they would only be a half game out and even a split would have left them right where the day started at 2 1/2 behind.

It still works, but 4 1/2 games in a month is a tall order against a team that plays good baseball.

jays are hot

The Blue Jays have been an up-and-down team this season. After one of those negative points, they sat out 61-54 on August 16. They then won seven of eight. Then they were inexplicably embarrassed in a three-game home sweep by the Angels. The Blue Jays were outscored 22-3 in those three losses.

Still, the Blue Jays have now won seven of eight, again, since that series.

Even with that outlier series, the Blue Jays have won 14 of their last 19 games.

Going forward

I noticed it’s a tall hill to climb for the Orioles, but they have control over it. There are still eight games left between the two colorful bird teams in the AL East, including the final three games of the season. Those games are also in Baltimore.

On the Blue Jays side, they have nine games left against the Rays and three against the Yankees. They can do some damage head-to-head against the Rays, continue to do so against the Orioles and then hope for some help with the Yankees. Taking the AL East is still a long shot, but it’s not 100 percent out of the question. Monday’s doubleheader sweep was another step in the right direction.

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