As the Toronto Blue Jays prepared for their final interleague game of the season on Sunday, the team had a chance to make rare franchise history.
And then they blew it, in embarrassing fashion no less.
The Jays were shut out by the Miami Marlins 9-0, dropping their final interleague record for the year to an even 9-9, instead of a winning mark of 10-8. It may not sound like a big deal, until you check the record books.
Long described as a key to any potential post-season aspirations, the Jays have only had a winning record in interleague play once since 2004, when the American League began dominating the National League. Since that time, Toronto's overall record against the Senior Circuit was 74-87 heading into Sunday; far behind the traditional powerhouses in their division in the Yankees (97-64) and Red Sox (104-57). Even the Tampa Bay Rays, who were AL East basement dwellers until 2008, have a better mark at 88-73.
But there the Blue Jays were, with a chance to sweep the Marlins and bring their record over .500 for only the second time in eight years. And they couldn't pull it off. Again.
Along the way, the Jays also swept the Philadelphia Phillies, and took two of three from the New York Mets. But they lost two of three to Atlanta, and Milwaukee and three straight to Washington. While it's certainly an improvement over last year's 8-10 record or the 7-11 mark recorded in 2010, it's just not good enough, especially for a team that believes it will be real contenders from 2013 and beyond.
The AL East is always going to be baseball's toughest division, and the importance of winning against New York, Boston, Tampa and Baltimore will continue to remain significant. But if the Jays can't match their rivals' level of play in interleague competition, they can forget about reaching the playoffs altogether.