On Sunday, June 9, the New York Yankees watched an 8-3 lead in their series finale in Toronto disappear thanks to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez taking parting cannon shots deep into the afternoon. Apparently galvanized by the victory, the East was now firmly in play for the Jays, who trailed the Yankees by just 11 games instead of 13.
Regardless of the current standings, chaos was about to reign. The Bombers had a chance to bury their foes and didn’t. Toronto was far too terrifying to be left in the middle of the pack like that. The Yankees’ bullpen had restarted their rivals’ momentum.
Three and a half weeks later, the Jays are now 16 back in the loss column and their manager has been fired. What … changed, exactly?
Since that impactful date, the Jays have gone 8-14, watching their rotation and bullpen injuries pile up like cheese curds on poutine. The bats have come up big occasionally, but rarely; Vladimir Guerrero Jr. looks more mortal since the rest of the league discovered the high fastball turns him into the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
And now, all of a sudden, after a victory over the Phillies Tuesday … manager Charlie Montoyo has been fired. What?! Wasn’t he a diamond in the rough? The steward for the future of the AL East? What happened?!
Blue Jays fire Charlie Montoyo, Yankees sit stunned
Apologies for being unable to deliver more trenchant analysis than, “?????,” but “?????????????????????????”!
The frustration in Toronto is understandable. This was supposed to be the year. The team’s offense was maturing. Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios were the answers in the rotation, not to mention Alek Manoah. Add in the home field vaccination advantage, and there was no reason the Jays couldn’t completely put the clamps on their opponents north of the border.
Yet, somehow, the pieces don’t seem to fit yet. The rotation’s health plays a large part, but apparently isn’t the only co-star in this picture; the offense hasn’t been what it was lauded to be, either, and has mostly been healthy.
Still, though, Montoyo’s name was rarely mentioned as a catalyst for Toronto’s struggles until the minute he was gone.
Without their skipper, will Toronto suddenly see the error of their ways and become energized? Will they make the AL East push they couldn’t manager earlier, after the events of June 19? Or will they only sink further, desperately waiting for the end credits on the “movie” of 2022?
Regardless of how high they fly or how quickly they surrender, the Jays’ front office has proven to be a much more unpredictable wild card than anyone thought 3.5 weeks prior.