The push for the post-season officially began for the Blue Jays in the High Mile City Friday night.
Denver is also known as the Gateway to the Rockies, a more apt description of Toronto’s season given its rocky record of stringing together wins.
The host Colorado Rockies aren’t good and neither are the Oakland A’s.
By the time the Jays return from their six-game road trip, a minimum of five games must be won.
A six-game sweep cannot be discounted as well.
When the Jays return home, a three-game series against the woeful Kansas City Royals await before a critical series against the Texas Rangers takes place, one that could have all kinds of playoff implications.
Toronto’s push may have been given a boost with Friday’s news that Chad Green had been activated from the 60-day injured list.
He was active for Friday night’s game.
The club also announced that infielder Spencer Horwitz has been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo and was also active for Friday’s game.
Right-handed reliever Hagen Danner was transferred to the 60-day IL because of a left oblique strain.
In his MLB debut, the same day when Alek Manoah was demoted for the second time this season, Danner was hurt after he faced his second batter.
By the way, Manoah has not pitched since Aug. 10.
Hopefully Green does not suffer a similar fate as Danner when Green makes his Blue Jays debut.
Unlike the greenhorn Danner, Green has been around the big-league block.
If history is to repeat itself, the hope is that Green follows the same trajectory Hyun Jin Ryu forged when he came back from Tommy John surgery.
Ryu has looked like his former self, a crafty, savvy and soft-throwing lefty who simply knows how to work the strike zone.
He was the scheduled starter for the series opener in Denver.
Green’s presence adds to a bullpen that has been quite good.
Erik Swanson remains out, but he’ll soon return once his stint on the 15-day IL expires.
Officially, the Jays announced earlier in the week that the veteran righty was diagnosed with thoracic spine inflammation.
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As for Green, he has the potential to be even better than Swanson, but so much will depend on how Green looks when he does make his way back to an MLB mound.
This off-season, the Jays came to terms with Green, 32, on a two-year deal worth US $8.5 million, pocket change in today’s baseball economics.
Green spent seven years with the New York Yankees and earned quite the reputation as a big-time bullpen arm.
In 12.1 innings spent between Single-A Dunedin and Triple-A Buffalo, Green posted a 1.46 ERA while striking out 15 and issuing one free pass.
Jordan Romano is the incumbent closer, a fact no one should debate.
Green is more than capable of emerging as that all-important set-up man.
As good as Jordan Hicks has looked, the fireballer has also had moments when he lacks control and gives up the long ball.
Yimi Garcia has been good, Trevor Richards, Genesis Cabrera as well, as the list of options is long.
The chances of the Blue Jays qualifying for the playoffs isn’t as long, but time, clearly, is running out.
Friday officially marked the turn of the calendar, a moment when baseball’s playoff races begin to heat up.
Despite their uneven season marred by an offence that often takes too many games off, the Jays have the pitching to make a serious push.
And once in, all bets are off.
Winning the AL East seems like a stretch, but nailing down one of three wild-card slots in the AL isn’t so far-fetched.
At no point this season have the Blue Jays won more than six games in a row.
Streaks aren’t so crucial when the goal is to stack series wins.
Still, a sustained streak does speak to playing well when the lineup is producing, starters are going a minimum of five innings and the bullpen is doing its job.
The Jays managed to stay above .500 during Bo Bichette’s first injury absence.
This time around, flirting with .500 won’t cut it.
Matt Chapman’s right middle finger has sidelined the slick-fielding third baseman.
Injuries, as they say, are part of baseball, or any sport for that matter.
In times of duress, players need to step up, namely the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer.
Whatever has been said about manager John Schneider, whether some of the team’s alleged big guns have failed to deliver, they are all dismissed given the baseball calendar.
If they persist, then some hard off-season decisions must be made.
For now, the time is right for the Blue Jays to make their push.
The schedule dictates it, the gravity of the Jays’ situation says so and the arrival of September confirms it.
Either way you slice it, it’s go time for the Jays.
Heading into Friday’s play, the Jays found themselves 2.5 games back of Texas for the third wild-card spot.
The Rangers began an nine-game homestand Friday night, a stretch that will see Texas play three-game series against Minnesota, Houston and Oakland before winging it to Toronto for a four-game series that begins Sept. 11.
Back in mid-June when the Rangers played host to the Blue Jays, Texas took two of three.
In the series rubber match, the Rangers overcame a 6-0 deficit to beat Toronto, 11-7.
Horwitz, by the way, made his MLB debut when he served as DH in the loss.
For the record, he had a hit, walked twice and drove in one run.