Baltimore (89-73) at Toronto (89-73)
When: Tuesday, October 4th 2016
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: TBS
The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles battled back-and-forth all season and ended up with the exact same record, but it will be the Blue Jays who get homefield in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card game by virtue of their 10-9 season series win. Toronto took two of three in Boston over the weekend and held off the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners for one of the Wild Card spots, while the Orioles won seven of their last nine. The Orioles led the majors with 253 home runs and Mark Trumbo led all players with 47, though only one of those came in 75 at-bats against Toronto. Baltimore should have plenty of confidence after finishing the season strong including 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 Blue Jays have some concerns at the back of the bullpen with Jason Grilli and Osuna. Grilli, who usually pitches the eighth inning, allowed a total of six runs on seven hits – three home runs – in 1.2 innings over his last three appearances while Osuna had a string of three straight blown saves come to an end Sunday. Baltimore has no such concerns. Closer 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.
Chris Tillman, who led the O’s with 16 wins, will get the nod on Tuesday. He is winless in his last three starts while failing to complete six innings in each of those outings. Tillman could not get out of the second inning against Boston on September 22nd but was better at Toronto on Wednesday, when he allowed two runs (one earned) and six hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. Tillman is 5-10 with a 5.44 ERA in 24 career starts against the Blue Jays.
Toronto had to use its top two starters in ace Aaron Sanchez and right-hander Marco Estrada over the weekend at Boston in order to clinch a playoff spot and instead turns to Marcus Stroman. The New York native went 1-0 with a 4.19 ERA in the playoffs last season and finished the 2016 season by allowing three or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts. The one start in that stretch that was not good came on Thursday against Baltimore, when he was hit for four runs on nine hits and two walks in seven innings.
Baltimore comes in with a little more confidence than Toronto, but the homefield advantage is pretty big for the Jays. Baltimore has it’s ace on the mound, while Toronto will use it’s third starter. Toronto’s bullpen is a huge concern for me and if Baltimore can get a lead late in the game, it might be over. I’m going to take the O’s in this one mainly because I’m not laying 145 on Toronto.
Pick: Orioles +135