And now, this season gets serious. Over the next six days, the Jays get their first real taste of the AL East (because we're already saying that Baltimore doesn't count.)
If you want games that "matter", then take heed: These are the games that matter.
Last year, the Jays' schedule against the Only Division That Matters was almost entirely backloaded, with their first meeting against the Unholy Trinity coming on May 19 in Boston. And it was pretty much on that evening in Boston that the then unstoppable Blue Jay machine was pretty much stopped in their tracks.
(And to be honest with you, we're not sure that we've recovered yet from that Tim Wakefield junk-ball-palooza, after which the Jays hitters went into such a prolonged slumber that some of them may have had their organs harvested without waking up. Which would go a long way towards explaining Lyle Overbay.)
Make no mistake: These are the games that matter, and this is where the fortunes of this team are determined. The Jays were 20 games under .500 against those three teams (and an even .500 with the Orioles, if that matters), so effectively it was that significant chunk of the schedule that sunk any hopes of respectability. Conversely, the Jays were 49-41 outside of their division. Which is kinda respectable, even for a team that people wrote off as a disaster.
(Go ahead. Sing it with us, because you know the words: "My Kingdom for a Balanced Schedule!")
Let's get this party started right
So if this wholly inequitable portion of the schedule has to get started somehow, we can't think of a much better pitching matchup than tonight's. The Dreamboat himself, Brett Cecil, will take the mound in the air-conditioned tomb of Tampa versus the dastardly Matt Garza, who owns the Jays (6-3, 1.70 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 10 career starts against the Jays.) And still, we'd rather face him than Wakefield.
(If only we weren't going to be blind drunk by the time the first pitch is tossed.)