Toronto has climbed into the postseason conversation thanks to a recent surge

George Springer of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates a win over the Boston Red Sox with Santiago Espinal and Jordan Romano at Rogers Centre on Aug. 8, 2021.
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images North America
Dunedin was ducky. Buffalo a beaut. But the Blue Jays didnt truly take wing this season until their return to Toronto on July 30.
The team came from five runs down on Sunday to beat the Red Sox and finish its first Canadian homestand in more than two years with a 9-2 mark. It did it with a three-game sweep of Kansas City and three of four wins against each of Cleveland and Boston, the last a humdinger that had the COVID-constrained crowd rocking at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays took off for Los Angeles on Monday with a 15-8 record in the second half and the feel of a contender. They have seven more weeks to reel in the front-running Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East and if, not that, to secure one of the leagues two wildcard playoff berths.
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Toronto presently trails three others in that quest but has climbed into the postseason conversation with the recent surge.
George Springer belted a three-run homer in the eighth inning on Sunday as Toronto rallied to defeat the Bostonians, who have begun to sag after a surprisingly strong start. The Blue Jays trailed 7-2 early before they eked out the 9-8 victory.
We didnt quit when it looked like it was going to be a tough game, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. I thought, Okay, we had a great homestand, but Boston is going to win today.
That was amazing how we came back. I dont know what is going to happen from now on, but that tells you everything about the heart we have on this team.
The home run was the fifth in the past 11 games for Springer, who seems to have shaken off the quadriceps injury that has plagued him since the spring. He thrusted his arms into the air as he trotted down the first base line and watched the fastball from reliever Matt Barnes clear the fence.
Springer signed a six-year contract worth US$150-million with the club in January as a free agent. He is showing his value now with 14 homers in just 161 at-bats. At that pace, he would easily exceed 40 over 162 games. An ornery oblique muscle cut into that.
It has been a hectic, crazy season, Springer said. It didnt really start the way I would have liked it to start. But it is what it is. At this point, for me, it is about staying in the present. I have to go out every single day and leave everything Ive got out there.
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Springer called Sundays game-winning hit one of his best moments since he joined the team.
It was a big win, he said. You never know what one game can do. One game could be the difference between making the playoffs and not.
As a team, we havent clicked at the same time on each end of the ball. This was obviously a huge homestand for us. We have to go out west and continue to play the way we have been playing.
The Blue Jays play the first of four games with the Angels on Tuesday afternoon, in the first game of a doubleheader. Following that, they play three times in Seattle against the Mariners before flying back east for two games in Washington against the Nationals.
They are 60-50 and a season-best 10 games above .500 a little more than two-thirds of the way through the season. They are done with the second-place Red Sox for the year and have crept up to within a half-game of the third-place Yankees.
It is never easy to go on the road, Montoyo said. We just played 18 games in 17 days and that takes a toll on everybody. But leaving [Rogers Centre] after the homestand we had, it couldnt get any better.
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The team looks poised to make a run. Vladimir Guerrero has a league-leading 87 runs batted in and hit his 35th home run on Sunday. That is second-best only to Shohei Ohtani, L.A.s hitting and pitching phenomenon.
Marcus Semien has 26 homers and looks like a US$18-million bargain that Ross Atkins plucked out of a bin at Dollarama. Bo Bichette is doing it all a .293 batting average, 20 home runs, 77 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in as many tries. After signing what seemed like an overly generous US$8-million one-year contract, Robbie Ray, the left-handed starting pitcher, is having one of the best seasons of his career. Hyun Jin Ryu is again filling the role of staff ace, even if he had a rocky outing on Sunday against Boston.
Ryu is 11-5 with a 3.62 earned-run average even after allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. His teammates wiped the odour of that stinker away with their big rally.
All the players on the team understand how important the second half of the season is, Ryu said. We have high hopes in trying to contend this year.
So far, so good.