The Baltimore Orioles did some damage to one wild-card contender this week and will be out to do some more when they visit the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
The Orioles (52-107) won the rubber match of a three-game series with the visiting Boston Red Sox 6-2 on Thursday night. The Blue Jays (88-71) lost their rubber game 6-2 to the visiting New York Yankees.
The Yankees (91-68) hold the first American League wild-card spot by two games. The Red Sox (89-70) and the Seattle Mariners (89-70), who did not play Thursday, are tied for the second wild-card spot. The Blue Jays are one game behind Boston and Seattle.
The Yankees solidified their hold on a playoff spot by reaching Toronto ace Robbie Ray for four hits, all home runs. Three of the long balls came in a four-run sixth inning.
Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle hit his 33rd home run of the season, a three-run blast in the third inning, against Boston. He leads major league rookies in home runs. He has hit 14 homers that have either tied the game or given the Orioles a lead, including each of his past two.
The Blue Jays will start left-hander Steven Matz (13-7, 3.88 ERA) on Friday. He has faced Baltimore three times in his career, all this season, going 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA.
The Orioles had not named a starter as of Thursday night, determining it to be a “bullpen day.”
The Blue Jays probably need to sweep the Orioles to sneak into the playoffs.
“We just have to go one game at a time and win every game now, for sure,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Monoyo said.
The Orioles are using the final days of a losing season to build momentum for next season.
Baltimore used three rookies as starters for the series against the Red Sox: Bruce Zimmermann, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells. The trio combined to allow three earned runs in 15 innings.
“We just threw three extremely young, inexperienced left-handed starters against the Boston Red Sox, and they’re in a playoff race, and we won two out of three,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “All three were really good starts. I’m encouraged by that. We’ve pitched extremely well the last 10 days to two weeks, and that’s the name of the game, for me.
“We’ve got to improve our pitching, and these last couple weeks we’ve pitched well and stayed in so many games, had a lot of winnable games. … I’m encouraged by how competitive our guys were and how we answered (Thursday) and beat a good club.”
The Blue Jays have worked on their rotation with the anticipation of some possible play beyond the regular season.
Pitching coach Pete Walker said the coaching staff has planned for every possible combination.
“We’ve thought it all through, obviously the different scenarios,” Walker said. “But, really, our focus is on winning each night, but we have adjusted things.
“It will be good to have (Jose) Berrios and Ray available for tiebreakers and wild cards.”
The Blue Jays are 11-5 against the Orioles this season. Toronto finished 11-8 against the Yankees this season and is 39-34 against the American League East.
–Field Level Media