Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles did what they needed to do on the last weekend of the regular season and earned the two American League wild-card spots with identical 89-73 records. The Blue Jays edged the Orioles 10-9 in the season series, earning the right to host the one-game playoff Tuesday to determine which team advances to the AL Division Series to face the top-seeded Texas Rangers.
Baltimore should have plenty of confidence after finishing the season winning seven of its last nine games with a series win in Toronto last week that included a 3-2 triumph Wednesday in which Hyun Soo Kim belted a pinch-hit, two-run blast off Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna in the ninth inning. The Orioles paced the majors with 253 home runs and Mark Trumbo led all players with 47 blasts, though only one of those came in 75 at-bats against Toronto. The Blue Jays took two of three from the Boston Red Sox to finish the regular season, holding off hard charges from the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners in the wild-card race, but have some concerns at the back of the bullpen with Jason Grilli and Osuna. Grilli, who works the eighth inning, allowed a total of six runs on seven hits – three home runs – in 1 2/3 innings over his last three appearances while Osuna had a string of three straight blown saves come to an end Sunday.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.77 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37)
Tillman is the nominal ace of the Baltimore staff but is winless in his last three starts while failing to complete six innings in each of those outings. The California native could not get out of the second frame against Boston on Sept. 22 but was better at Toronto on Wednesday, when he allowed two runs (one earned) and six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Tillman is 5-10 with a 5.44 ERA in 24 career starts against the Blue Jays.
Toronto burned its top two starters in ace Aaron Sanchez and right-hander Marco Estrada over the weekend at Boston in order to clinch and instead turns to Marcus Stroman. The Duke product went 1-0 with a 4.19 ERA in the playoffs last season and finished the 2016 campaign by allowing three or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts. The outlier in that bunch came Thursday against Baltimore, when he was reached for four runs on nine hits and two walks in seven innings.
1. The Blue Jays qualified for the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since winning the World Series in 1992 and 1993.
2. Orioles LHP Zach Britton converted all 47 of his save opportunities in the regular season with five versus Toronto, tossing eight scoreless innings over seven appearances against the Blue Jays.
3. Baltimore CF Adam Jones enters the postseason in a 7-for-51 slump with one extra-base hit in his last 12 games.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5