Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Baltimore Orioles stayed alive in the battle for the top American League wild card spot and put themselves in position to pull even with the Toronto Blue Jays atop the standings with a dramatic victory on Wednesday. The Orioles can earn that tie and keep some space between themselves and the rest of the AL wild card contenders when they visit the Blue Jays in the rubber match of the three-game series on Thursday.
Toronto was on the verge of a three-game lead in the standings before the bullpen had a little trouble closing out a two-run lead on Wednesday, and the recent struggles of Jason Grilli and Robert Osuna in the late innings are a concern. Grilli has allowed five runs while recording three outs in his last two appearances while Osuna was hit with a blown save in two of his last three games. Hyun Soo Kim’s pinch-hit, two-run blast off Osuna in the ninth on Wednesday was the deciding factor in the win and left Baltimore one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers and two clear of the Seattle Mariners in the race for the second wild card. The Orioles finish the regular season with three games at the New York Yankees over the weekend while the Blue Jays travel to Boston.
TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, MASN (Baltimore), Sportsnet (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Ubaldo Jimenez (7-12, 5.71 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Marcus Stroman (9-9, 4.34)
Jimenez has been solid since returning to the rotation late in August and posted quality starts in four of his last six turns. The Dominican Republic native went at least six frames in the first five of those outings but lasted only 5 1/3 innings against Boston in his last start on Sept. 21 and was hit with the loss while allowing two unearned runs on four hits and four walks. Jimenez limited Toronto to three runs in 6 2/3 innings without factoring in the decision on Aug. 30.
Stroman has not won since Aug. 14 despite allowing three or fewer earned runs in six of his last seven turns. The best start of the bunch came against the New York Yankees on Saturday, when the Duke product surrendered one hit in seven innings but was held out of the decision in a game the Blue Jays went on to win 3-0. Stroman last saw Baltimore on June 19 and was lit up for seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
1. Blue Jays 2B Devon Travis (shoulder) sat out the last two games.
2. Baltimore LHP Zach Britton turned in his 13th straight scoreless appearance for his 47th save on Wednesday.
3. Toronto CF Ezequiel Carrera is 9-for-18 with six runs scored in his last five starts.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2