Toronto Blue Jays clinch playoff spot

The Toronto Blue Jays have clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2016 with Thursday’s 4-1 victory over the Yankees at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., and now the real fun begins.

While Ryu and contributions from the young core perfectly fit the Blue Jays’ plan to return to the postseason, so many other parts to this story don’t. This will be the first and, hopefully, the last time that Toronto clinches with just its 30th victory of a shortened season, and no one ever expected this celebration to take place in Buffalo.

It might all be coming a year ahead of expectations, too, but this young Blue Jays team has earned every inch of spotlight it will be given.

This marks the eighth time that the Blue Jays have qualified for the postseason, and the first time since they made back-to-back appearances in 2015 and ’16, a pair of runs that captivated Canada and reawakened baseball north of the border. It hasn’t been a long wait by any means, but the 22-year postseason drought prior to those appearances taught Blue Jays fans just how rare these opportunities can be.

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“I’m just so proud of my club and everything we’ve gone through all year,” said manager Charlie Montoyo, who clinched his first postseason berth as an MLB manager. “These kids, the ups and downs, the tough games and coming back and winning games after tough losses. We kept believing in ourselves. I’m so proud of this group. I’m the happiest guy right now.”

Montoyo was the perfect manager to clinch a Major League playoff spot in a Minor League stadium, too.

After managing nearly two decades in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system — the team he just might face in the American League Wild Card Series — Montoyo has taken the long road to Thursday night’s party.

Those tough times Montoyo mentions are real, too. Looking back a couple of months, the Blue Jays were a 7-11 team playing poor fundamental baseball and fading, very early, from postseason contention. That’s when they reeled off six consecutive wins, and they haven’t dipped below .500 since.

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