An apt reminder from Charlie Montoyo to his Toronto Blue Jays in recent days is that “pressure is a privilege,” and it’s certainly a relevant mantra as a week of wrenching, high-stake action looms.
Six games left, one game back of the second wild card, two games back of the first means the margin for error is perilously small for the manager’s club before the finish line.
The only way for the Blue Jays (87-69) to remain fully in control of their fate is to sweep the New York Yankees (89-67), the current wild card leaders, in the series at Rogers Centre beginning Tuesday.
Anything less than that and external help will be needed, either from the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays to catch the Yankees, or the Baltimore Orioles and/or Washington Nationals to catch the Boston Red Sox (88-68), who are currently in possession of the second wild card.
And, at the other end of the spectrum, a sweep by New York this week could extinguish the Blue Jays’ post-season hopes entirely.
So, into the crucible they go for Tuesday’s opener, when Hyun Jin Ryu is expected to return from the injured list and take the ball against Jameson Taillon. It’s Jose Berrios versus Gerrit Cole and Robbie Ray against Corey Kluber in the games to follow.