The Toronto Blue Jays are headed to the postseason again this season as Aaron Sanchez reserved seven of his best innings of the 192 he has pitched so far this season, in a 2-1 defeat of the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, the Blue Jays will host the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night with the winner advancing to play the Texas Rangers on Thursday.
Baltimore Orioles (89-73, 39-42 on road) at Toronto Blue Jays (89-73, 46-35 at home)
Game time: 5 pm PST (8 pm EST)
Starting pitchers: Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37ERA) vs Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.77ERA)
Marcus Stroman gets the nod for the Blue Jays in the wild card game, having lost his previous five decisions in September, but not due to poor performance. Stroman’s ERA was 3.41 across six September starts. He went 1-2 vs Baltimore in 2016 with a 7.04 ERA in four starts.
Right-hander Chris Tillman will go to the bump for the Orioles. Tillman comes into the Wild Card game having pitched 19 innings across four September starts where he went 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA. Tillman went 1-0 versus Toronto this season with a 3.63 ERA in four starts which includes an 11-6 victory over Stroman and the Blue Jays at Camden Yards on June 19th.
Season series: 10-9 for the Blue Jays (97 runs for, 81 runs against), but the Orioles won two of three games in Toronto just last week.
Previous 10 games: Blue Jays 6-4 (37 RF, 27 RA), Orioles 7-3 (38 RF, 26 RA)
Hits: Josh Donaldson: 164, Manny Machado: 188
Batting average: Devon Travis: .300, Hyun Soo Kim: .302
On-base percentage: Josh Donaldson: .404, Hyun Soo Kim: .382
Home runs: Edwin Encarnacion: 42, Mark Trumbo: 47
Runs: Josh Donaldson: 122, Manny Machado: 105
Stolen bases: Kevin Pillar: 14, Joey Rickard: 4
|1||Devon Travis, 2B||1||Adam Jones, CF|
|2||Josh Donaldson, 3B||2||Hyun Soo Kim, LF|
|3||Edwin Encarnacion, 1B||3||Manny Machado, 3B|
|4||Jose Bautista, RF||4||Mark Trumbo, DH|
|5||Russell Martin, C||5||Matt Wieters, C|
|6||Troy Tulowitzki, SS||6||Chris Davis, 1B|
|7||Michael Saunders, DH||7||Jonathan Schoop, 2B|
|8||Kevin Pillar, CF||8||Michael Bourn, RF|
|9||Ezequiel Carrera, LF||9||J.J. Hardy, SS|
* – Subject to change
It almost seems unfair that the Orioles and Blue Jays will only get to face each other once this postseason due to how the two teams mirror each other and how closely they played each other this season, which makes predicting an outcome almost impossible. Seeing how Stroman performs early on will be one key; as Francisco Liriano will be available to pitch at the first sign of trouble. Another key to success will be getting up early in the game to keep the raucous home crowd engaged and also to avoid Orioles shutdown closer Zach Britton who is coming off a season for the ages.
One thing we can predict is that there will be 50,000+ screaming fans at the Dome sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to erupt at the next franchise defining moment.
Can you imagine if Darren O’Day came in to face Jose Bautista with the game on the line and a chance at a rematch with the Texas Rangers?
One can only dream…