By Kevin Cusmano
The year was 1993. That's the last time the Toronto Blue Jays played postseason baseball. Some guy by the name of Carter took some guy by the nickname Wild Thing deep for a home run that clinched a second straight World Series title for the Blue Jays. Twenty-two years later and Toronto has suddenly regained that long-lost swagger.
While the Blue Jays haven't ended their playoff drought just yet, this weekend's series against the New York Yankees has the feel of postseason baseball.
The Jays come in red hot, winners of 11 straight for the second time this year, buoyed by the trade deadline deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. The Yankees, a half-game behind Toronto for the American League East lead, finally broke their losing streak with a victory in Cleveland Thursday night and will seek to get a measure of revenge from last weekend, when Toronto swept three games in the Bronx. If the Yankees want to reclaim the division lead, they must find a way to win this series. It won't be easy.
Yankees pitching needs to find a way to contain the Blue Jays version of Murderers Row at the plate. As for Yankees hitting, now's the time to break out of a team-wide slump, and break out big, sending a message to the team from up North, and the rest of baseball, that the division belongs to them.
If we really want to see what this Yankees team is made of, this is the weekend we find out.
The pitching matchups lined up for the weekend appear to be an advantage for the Yankees. The Yankees will go with Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, while Toronto counters with David Price, Marco Estrada and Drew Hutchison. While recent trends may say otherwise, look for the Yankees' bats to come alive in Toronto and the pitching to hold up as well against a stacked Blue Jays lineup.
Come Sunday night, the Yankees will have returned the favor from last weekend, sweeping the Blue Jays and reclaiming control of the division. They won't look back.