Blue Jays Wild Card Watch: Perfect weekend bolsters Toronto's playoff hopes

Things couldn't have gone better for the Blue Jays over the weekend. Here's a look at the AL wild-card picture entering the penultimate week of the MLB season.

The Toronto Blue Jays entered their weekend series with the Boston Red Sox reeling from a four-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers that knocked them out of a playoff spot.

Three days later, Toronto was back in the American League's second wild-card position thanks to a sweep of their own, plus some major help on the out-of-town scoreboard.

Matt Chapman capped Sunday's 3-2 Blue Jays victory with a walk-off triple in the ninth inning. Daulton Varsho homered in the contest, while starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu turned in 4.2 scoreless innings before passing the baton to the bullpen.

The Blue Jays completed a sweep of the Red Sox in walk-off fashion. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj)
The Blue Jays completed a sweep of the Red Sox in walk-off fashion. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj)

While the Blue Jays were taking care of business against the Red Sox, they watched all their playoff rivals stumble. Both the Rangers and Seattle Mariners got swept, while the Houston Astros dropped two out of three to the lowly Kansas City Royals. As a result, the Blue Jays' playoff odds are up to 78.2%, per FanGraphs.

Here's a look at the standings entering Toronto's off day on Monday, plus a zip around the wild-card picture:

Houston Astros

Yesterday's result: Yordan Alvarez and Jake Meyers homered as the Astros managed to salvage the series finale against the Royals, 7-1. Ace Framber Valdez tossed seven strong innings in the win, as Houston opened a 1.5-game lead on the Rangers for the AL West lead.

What's next: After dropping four of six to the Royals and Oakland Athletics, the Astros start a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park. Perhaps the improved competition will spark Houston back to its winning ways. Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.39 ERA) takes the mound for the Astros opposite Orioles southpaw John Means, who is making just his second appearance of 2023 (0-1, 5.40 ERA).

Playoff odds: 96.8%

Tiebreaker situation with Blue Jays: Toronto owns tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head record.

Texas Rangers

Yesterday's result: The Rangers' six-game winning streak is firmly in the rearview mirror as Texas dropped all three games against the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend. Cleveland pounced for nine runs in the fourth inning on Sunday and didn't look back, routing its visitors 9-2.

What's next: Texas will look to get back on track in a hurry by returning home for a date with Boston. The Rangers give the ball to Jordan Montgomery (9-11, 3.47 ERA) in the opener, while the Red Sox counter with Kutter Crawford (6-7, 4.26 ERA).

Playoff odds: 71.4%

Tiebreaker situation with Blue Jays: Texas owns tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head record.

Seattle Mariners

Yesterday's result: The Mariners lost for the seventh time in nine games as the Los Angeles Dodgers completed the sweep with a 6-1 victory at T-Mobile Park. With the loss, Seattle fell 2.5 games behind Houston in the AL West, and a game behind Texas for the final AL wild card.

What's next: Seattle heads out on the road to begin a series with the Athletics. With a crucial showdown with the Rangers looming after these three games, the Mariners can't afford to look past the MLB-worst Athletics. Right-hander Bryan Woo (3-4, 4.16 ERA) starts for Seattle against Oakland's JP Sears (5-11, 4.45 ERA).

Playoff odds: 53.1%

Tiebreaker situation with Blue Jays: Seattle almost certainly owns tiebreaker thanks to a better record within its division (Blue Jays are 15-25 vs. AL East; Mariners are 26-13 vs. AL West).