Toronto Blue Jays: Five Series to Watch Down the Stretch

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Jun 24, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Chris Colabello (15) hits the game-winning home run during the twelfth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in the twelfth inning. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays, October 1st-3rd

The only guaranteed October baseball for the Jays will see them visit the Tampa Bay Rays (62-62) for a four-game series to conclude the regular season.

Like the Orioles, the Rays are fighting for the final Wild Card spot right now so depending on how things look towards the end of September, the Jays might have a desperate Tampa Bay team on their hands. They might also have a potential preview of their first-round opponent should the Jays secure the divisional title and the Rays escape the one-game Wild Card playoff (depending on how the other standings finish, too).

Jun 24, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Marco Estrada (25) walks back to the dugout after pitching the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not particularly concerned about the Rays. Their pitching is solid, but they have very little offensive. What scares me is Tropicana Field – the ugliest stadium in all of baseball from both an aesthetics perspective and in terms of the Jays’ inability to win winnable baseball games there. For some reason, the Blue Birds just don’t have any luck in the off-season home of team slugger and leader Jose Bautista.

An improved offence, defence and pitching staff could change all that, but the Jays might be inclined to rest key players at this time so who knows.

It’s really hard to evaluate this series since it comes at the very end of the season and the final standings might already be known by this time, but it could also be that the Wild Card spots and the American League East divisional crown will still be up for grabs. Such uncertainty makes this an all-important series for the Jays and potentially every other team involved in the American League playoff race.

I predict a 2-2 series split starved of any real offence from either team.

Notes: the Rays are 31-31 at home this season, but rank 30th in team offence on the season and 28th following the all-star break; their pitching staff, of course, finds itself in the top 10 for both periods. Toronto currently trails in the season series 5-8.