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Toronto Blue Jays clinch playoff spot for first time in 22 years

Toronto Blue Jays clinch playoff spot for first time in 22 years

Posted by PanamericanWorld on September 26, 2015

The longest playoff drought in North American professional sports is finally over. TheBlue Jays are heading to the post-season for the first time in 22 years.

And in an ironic twist — befitting of Toronto’s professional sports teams — nobody noticed when it happened, so there was no celebration.

The Jays clinched Friday night when they beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 and the Minnesota Twins lost to Detroit. It was believed that both the Twins and the L.A. Angels needed to lose on Friday to ensure the Jays secured at least the second wild-card spot.

But as first reported by Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, although the Angels won on Friday, the number of remaining head-to-head games between AL West teams guarantees the Jays a spot. Only two of the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and Angels can reach the Jays’ 88-win total, so with Minnesota now out of the equation, the Jays can do no worse than the second wild-card spot.

But by Saturday morning it was not yet official and the Jays’ own Twitter account seemed unaware the team had ended their long-standing drought. “With a win today, we will officially clinch a 2015 playoff berth!” the team tweeted before 9 a.m.

By 11 a.m., however, they made it official. But there was still some confusion among the players.

Jose Bautista, the Jays’ all-star and longest-tenured player, remained unconvinced Saturday morning.

“It’s like if the weatherman says there’s a 100 per cent chance of rain, but it hasn’t rained yet,” he said in the Jays’ clubhouse before the team played the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It’s surprising nobody knew,” manager John Gibbons said. “MLB didn’t say anything?”

Gibbons said there were no celebrations by the players on Friday night or Saturday morning. “I don’t even know if they know, to be honest with you.”

Whether or not the team celebrates, the accomplishment is gratifying, said Gibbons, who has managed the Jays for eight seasons over two separate stints.

“It’s been so long,” he said. “Guys have played great and really turned it on the last two months. So it’s a good feeling, but we’re trying for much more than that.”

The Jays still have their sights set on winning the division — and beyond that, catching Kansas City for top spot in the American League — and some players on Friday night, who like everyone else hadn’t yet figured out they had already clinched, said they wouldn’t celebrate even if they did.

“Obviously we want to be able to get into the post-season, right? But the wild-card, that hasn’t been our goal the entire year,” said Josh Donaldson, the Jays’ MVP candidate who hit his 40th homer of the season Friday. “Our goal is to win the division. When and if that day comes when we clinch the wild-card, for us in the clubhouse I don’t think that’s going to be something we’re that excited over . . . We’ll celebrate if and when we win the division.”

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