Blue Jays face Orioles in finale with chance to rocket up standings

Blue Jays face Orioles in finale with chance to rocket up standings

The Toronto Blue Jays will try to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Baltimore Orioles and possibly improve their postseason seeding Sunday afternoon at Buffalo in their final regular-season game.

The Blue Jays stayed within one game of the New York Yankees, who are second in the American League East, after defeating the Orioles 5-2 on Saturday night.

If the Blue Jays win Sunday and the Yankees lose, Toronto would take second place on the basis of the third tie-breaker, which is the record of each team in their past 20 games within the division.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to start right-hander Tanner Roark (2-3, 7.10 ERA) against Orioles left-hander Keegan Akin (1-2, 3.57).

Akin made his first career start against Toronto on Aug. 31 at Sahlen Field, working 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (both unearned) on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

Roark is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts this season against Baltimore. In six career outings (five starts) against the Orioles, he is 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA.

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The Blue Jays have rested two regular players in each of the first two games of the series.

Randal Grichuk’s day off ended in the sixth inning Saturday when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. departed with a bruised left foot, the result of a first-inning foul ball.

Grichuk hit a three-run home run in the seventh, his 12th homer of the season, seven of them against Baltimore.

Blue Jays reliever Ross Stripling left in the eighth after a comebacker bruised his shin.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said neither player was seriously injured.

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Grichuk is batting .342/.366/.947 against the Orioles but .259/.301/.385 against all other teams. In 39 career games against Baltimore, he has 19 homers and 44 RBIs.

The Blue Jays are pointing their pitchers toward the postseason, so Matt Shoemaker did not start Saturday, but threw on the side instead.

“We’re going to keep our options open,” Montoyo said. “We don’t know who we’re going to play yet, so he’s going to be part of the equation. We want to save him. We don’t want him to pitch (Saturday). He’s fine.”

In Shoemaker’s place, T.J. Zeuch pitched five scoreless innings in a no-decision.

Montoyo would not confirm that Hyun Jin Ryu would pitch Game 1 in the postseason, saying only that the left-hander was a “little sore” after using 100 pitches over seven innings Thursday.

“I’m comfortable with him anywhere,” Montoyo said. “It’s all about how he feels, and he threw a lot of pitches, so we’ll see how he feels. Wherever we put him, I know we’re going to have a chance. Either (Game) 1 or 2, we’ll see.”

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

The Orioles started 20-21 this season, but faded. They had three hits from Austin Hays and two doubles from Jose Iglesias on Saturday.

“There’s been some ups and downs this year, but I think we showed early on what this team is capable of doing,” Hays said.

Left-hander John Means continued his strong finish to the season, allowing one hit — Cavan Biggio’s solo homer with two out in the sixth — Saturday, and struck out nine in his six innings.

“I’m going to take this momentum into the offseason,” Means said. “I’m going to just try to trap this mentality that I’m in right now and just work on that, work on cleaning some stuff up going into the offseason.”

Article via Stats Perform

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