It hasn't been smooth sailing for the Toronto Blue Jays by any means this season, but this one was especially ugly.
Entering a critical series with the Texas Rangers — one with massive playoff implications in the American League wild-card race — Toronto held a 1.5-game lead over Texas and looked to be surging after winning eight of its last 10.
Boy did those good vibes fade in a hurry, however, as Toronto dropped all four games of the critical set — culminating with a 9-2 loss on Thursday night after dropping a disastrous 10-0 decision on Wednesday. All in all, the Rangers outscored the Jays by a whopping total of 35-9 over the series at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays, who now sit 2.5 games back of the Rangers and on the outside of the postseason picture, will also lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Texas if it comes down to that for a playoff spot. The loss also dropped the Blue Jays to 1.5 games back of the Seattle Mariners, who were idle on Thursday, in the race for the third and final AL wild-card berth.
"We're as pissed as anybody. We're mad," Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman said after Thursday's defeat. "We're all competitors, we don't like what happened this series.
"We've got a bad taste in our mouth. But we can't do anything right now but keep going."
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has struggled mightily all year and especially in this series, got off the schneid somewhat with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first to give the Jays the lead. But that glimmer of hope and positivity was short-lived as Texas quickly responded in the top of the second to regain the lead and did not look back from there — pouring in eight unanswered runs en route to its third blowout win of the series.
The boo birds were out at Rogers Centre — louder and louder with each Rangers run — for the second night in a row after the crowd serenaded the team with jeers amid Texas' rout on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays were swept at home in the most important series of the season.
Outscored 35 to 9
And Boo'ed off the field in each of the last 2. pic.twitter.com/Gitit246gT
— Tim Micallef (@tim_micallef) September 15, 2023
Gausman, who has seen his performance dip since the All-Star break, tried to shoulder the blame for Thursday's disheartening loss, even though the Toronto offence mustered just two runs.
"Today is completely on me," said Gausman. "To go out and give the lead away (to Seager's home run) and then Vladdy comes up and takes the momentum back and then I give it up right away (with Seager's double) is just unacceptable and that whole game after that is on me...
"Vladdy took the lead for us and I gave it right back. That's tough. We've got to use that going forward, use whatever frustrations we have and try to take it out on the other teams."
The one-sided series saw the Blue Jays' odds of making the playoffs plummet from 79.3% before the series to 46.8% after it, according to FanGraphs. The Rangers, meanwhile, saw their postseason odds shoot up to 78.7% from 51.7% after the sweep.
The good news for the Blue Jays is there are still 15 games remaining on the regular-season schedule (starting with a three-game set vs. the Red Sox this weekend) and the odds aren't totally stacked again them just yet. It's not undoable, sure, but Toronto will now have to go on a hell of a run over the next two-and-a-half weeks to be in a playoff spot come October.