Home > Toronto Blue Jays > Interleague Play – An Achilles Heel

Interleague Play – An Achilles Heel

Alex Gonzalez was traded for Yunel Escobar last season as the Jays found themselves as sellers once again.

A 9-game road trip through Cincinnati, Atlanta, and St. Louis followed by a 6-game home stand culminating in the return of prodigal son Roy Halladay on Canada Day weekend, will determine whether or not the Jays are sellers or buyers come the July 31st trade deadline.

That may sound like an overreaction, but currently sitting 5 games back of the wildcard and 6.5 back of the red-hot, division-leading Red Sox, there is little room for error.

The Blue Jays are 115-132 (.466) all-time in interleague play. That’s good for 4th worst all-time in the American League only ahead of the historical minnow Tampa Bay Rays, Royals, and Orioles. This season the Jays are 1-2 in interleague play, losing a weekend series to the lowly Houston Astros which most notably began the precarious trend of blowing late game leads.

Traveling to the National League, whether it be to the unfriendly confines of Citizens Bank Park in Philly or the unpredictable Coors Fields in Colorado, has been season-killing in years past. Last year the Jays finished interleague play at 7-11 while the Red Sox (13-5) and Yankees (11-7) capitalized on the recent dominance of the AL to widen the gap in the AL East. Notably, the Rays finished interleague play with an identical 7-11 record, but dominated in the AL East winning the division with a 42-30 record. The Jays obviously didn’t fair as well at 39-42.

If the Jays are going to continue to be mediocre against AL East opponents outside of Baltimore then they’ll need to improve their interleague record. It’s an 18 game season that the Jays need to dominate if they wish to make up any ground in the race for the wildcard. However, if they continue to struggle against NL opponents they’ll soon find themselves in a familiar position – out of the race by late June.

It won’t be an easy task as the Reds, Braves, and Cardinals are all in division races of their own. The Jays will then return home to face the surprisingly competent Pirates before an emotional weekend with the NL-leading Phillies. They’ll follow that stretch with a trip to the abyss that is Fenway Park followed by a weekend series with the Indians before the all-star break.

This 21-game stretch, and specifically interleague play will determine if the Jays will be looking to buy or sell come the trade deadline. If history is any indication we’ll soon be looking for the next Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar deal.

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  1. June 20, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    An adept break-down of the Blue Jays Interleague woes. A four game swing last season from 7-11 to 11-7, and other things being equal, would have kept them fighting for the wild card into September.

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