Monday, October 3, 2016
BLUE JAYS WILD CARD PREVIEW
A look at the American League wild-card game between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays:
Schedule: Tuesday, at Toronto, 6:08 p.m. Sask Time (Sportsnet).
Season Series: Blue Jays won 10-9.
Orioles: RF Michael Bourn (.264, 5 HRs, 52 RBIs with Diamondbacks and Orioles), CF Adam Jones (.265, 29, 83), 3B Manny Machado (.294, 37, 96), DH Mark Trumbo (.256, 47, 108, 170 Ks), C Matt Wieters (.244, 17, 66), 1B Chris Davis (.221, 38, 84, 88 BBs, 219 Ks), 2B Jonathan Schoop (.267, 25, 82), LF Hyun Soo Kim (.302, 6, 22), SS J.J. Hardy (.269, 9, 48).
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (.300, 11, 50), 3B Josh Donaldson (.284, 37, 99), 1B Edwin Encarnacion (.263, 42, 127), DH Jose Bautista (.234, 22, 69), C Russell Martin (.231, 20, 74), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.254, 24, 79), RF Michael Saunders (.253, 24, 57), CF Kevin Pillar (.266, 7, 53), LF Ezequiel Carrera (.248, 6, 23) or Melvin Upton Jr. (.238, 20, 61 with San Diego and Toronto).
Orioles: RH Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.77 ERA, 140Ks) or RH Ubaldo Jimenez (8-12, 5.44, 125 Ks).
Blue Jays: RH Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37, career-high 204 IP) or LH Francisco Liriano (8-13, 4.69 with Pittsburgh and Toronto; 2-2, 2.92 in 10 games, 8 starts, with Blue Jays).
Orioles: LH Zach Britton (2-1, 0.54, 47/47 saves, 18 BBs, 74 Ks), RH Brad Brach (10-4, 2.05, 2 saves, 92 Ks), RH Darren O'Day (3-1, 3.77, .214 BA against), RH Mychal Givens (8-2, 3.13, .220 BA against), RH Vance Worley (2-2, 3.53) RH Oliver Drake (1-0, 4.00, 21 Ks in 18 innings), LH Brian Duensing (1-0, 4.05), RH Tommy Hunter (2-2, 3.18 with Indians and Orioles).
Blue Jays: RH Roberto Osuna (1-6, 2.68, 36/39 saves), RH Jason Grilli (7-6, 1.29, 81Ks in 59 innings with Atlanta and Toronto), LH Brett Cecil (1-7, 3.96), RH Joe Biagini (4-3, 3.06 in 60 games as a rookie).
A single-elimination showdown between AL East foes that battled to the final day of the regular season to determine which one would host this game. ... Toronto and Baltimore tied for second place at 89-73, four games behind division champion Boston. ... This is the first post-season meeting between the teams, who have been in the same division since the Blue Jays were born in 1977. ... Orioles went 4-6 in Toronto this season but took two of three there last week, winning the final two games of a pivotal series after losing six of their previous seven road games against the Blue Jays. Baltimore got a two-run homer from Kim in the ninth inning to win one game and a stout performance by Jimenez in a 4-0 victory. ... Toronto outscored the Orioles 97-81 overall in 19 meetings. ... Machado and Donaldson have clashed in the past, most recently last year. ... Tillman went 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays this season. ... Trumbo hit only one home run in 80 plate appearances against Toronto. ... Blue Jays have won nine of the past 15 meetings, outscoring the Orioles 83-65. ... Since moving into Rogers Centre in 1989, Toronto has gone 136-86 there against Baltimore. ... The Blue Jays hit 29 home runs in the season series, while Baltimore had 28. ... This is Martin's ninth trip to the playoffs in 11 major league seasons. He has made it with four teams (also the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates). ... The winner heads to Texas to play the AL West champion Rangers in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Thursday.
Orioles: Baltimore has excelled under manager Buck Showalter, who took over in July 2010. After 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles are in the playoffs for the third time in five years. They lost to the Yankees in 2012 ALDS and advanced to ALCS in 2014 before being swept in four games by Kansas City. ... This team is built for power. Trumbo led the majors in homers and five of his teammates hit at least 22. Baltimore led majors with 253 home runs, 28 more than runner-up St. Louis. ... Though Bourn is a threat on the bases, the Orioles had only 19 steals. ... Orioles went 52-38 at home and 39-42 on the road but finished with a 4-2 mark on their season-ending trip to Toronto and Yankee Stadium. ... Baltimore won its final five series away from home. ... Orioles went 21-16 in one-run games and 6-2 in extra innings.
Blue Jays: After snapping a 22-year post-season drought in 2015, Toronto reached the playoffs for the second straight season under manager John Gibbons. The last time the Blue Jays did that was a three-year run from 1991-93 that ended with back-to-back World Series titles. ... The Blue Jays went 13-16 in September and October, their first losing month since April (11-14). ... Toronto averaged an AL-worst 3.69 runs per game in September and October, a full run off their season average of 4.70. ... Blue Jays starters were strong down the stretch, allowing no more than one earned run in 12 of the final 17 games. The bullpen struggled, however, blowing leads five times in a seven-game stretch that ended Oct. 1. ... The Blue Jays went 46-35 at home, the fourth-best mark in the division. ... Toronto has never played in the wild-card round before. ... Toronto has several pending free agents, including Bautista, Encarnacion, Saunders, Cecil and RHP R.A. Dickey.
- Mister Perfect. Britton converted every one of his 47 save opportunities this season and allowed only four earned runs, none after Aug. 24. If the Orioles have a lead in the eighth or ninth inning, they'll feel pretty good about Britton locking it down.
- Missing Benoit. Blue Jays reliever Joaquin Benoit went 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings after being acquired from Seattle on July 26, but tore his left calf running in from the bullpen during a bench-clearing scrap with the Yankees on Sept. 26. He was ruled out for two to three weeks.
- RISP-Y Business. Toronto hit .249 with runners in scoring position, the worst mark among AL playoff teams. Over the final eight games, the Blue Jays were 13 for 66 (.197) with one double in those situations.