When it gets down to the last few weeks of the season, and the pressure mounts on that first-place team to finish off the competition behind them, those last games can be the hardest to win – and few teams and their MLB betting fans know that lesson more tragically than the Toronto Blue Jays.
A Brief Analysis of the MLB Betting Prediction on Toronto Winning the AL East
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 20, 2015
How History Has Treated the Blue Jays in MLB Betting Lines
Yes, they just took three of four from the New York Yankees last weekend. However, in 1985, they took three games out of four in New York, leaving town with a 4 1/2 game lead. They did not clinch the division until Game 161, which took place in the windy confines of old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. In 1987, the team was three outs away from having a 4 1/2 game lead with just six to go, but they lost that game – and the rest of them that season. They spent the postseason watching at home.
Former Blue Jays great Lloyd Moseby remembers that season. He told the Toronto Sun, “We were thinking, ‘All we have to do is one game,’ how hard can that be?” Of course, he learned just how hard it could be, along with the rest of the team, when he ended up with no postseason trip that year. The same thing happened to Toronto in 1990. They left Boston with a one-game lead over the Red Sox on September 23 of that year. Then they lost six of their next nine and were knocked out of playoff contention on the last day of the season when they lost in Baltimore.
In 1999, they had a 1/2-game lead in the American League wild card race (only one team received a wild card in those days) on August 12. Then, they opened a nine-game homestand and lost eight. They were done. That team lost two of three to the Florida Marlins, who were themselves 22 games out of the lead in the National League East. Some Blue Jays fans were so outraged that they demanded the firing of then-manager Jim Fregosi.
Of all of those seasons, the Blue Jays have to consider the 1987 finish the most painful. In that season, the Blue Jays had won three in a row from Detroit and were up in the ninth inning in the fourth, preparing to complete a four-game sweep. However, closer Tom Henke surrendered a home run to Kirk Gibson to tie the game. Detroit would win in 13 innings. During that game, Tony Fernandez got hurt in a freak injury near second base.
Tiger Bill Madlock slid in hard to break up a double play, and Fernandez landed with his elbow on the metal cut-out. Exhibition Stadium featured an artificial turf surface with cut-out areas for the dirt around the bases. Injuries like this are what prompted a return to grass fields – and the replacement of Exhibition Stadium with the SkyDome. Now, the Blue Jays have another freak injury to deal with – this time, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. All teams have the expanded 40-man rosters to choose from, but that only means more fingernails to gnaw on when the pressure mounts.