The Toronto Blue Jays’ hopes for the World Series have long been crushed, but the team’s American League East opponent is looking to make up for lost ground from a 3-1 series loss to the New York Yankees.
Those Baltimore Orioles are two-and-a-half games back of the second American League wild card spot this Friday.
Baltimore is feeling the heat starting down a 16-game barrel, and will look to capitalize on a Jays’ win-streak gone cold culminating in a four-game Los Angeles Angels’ sweep of the blue birds.
Toronto, which loses slightly less at home (35-37) than they do on the road (32-42), has hit well against the Orioles with a slash line of .289/.355/.485 – faring slightly better offensively than the Orioles have against them.
The long ball could be the decisive factor when Todd Redmond (3-2) and Jason Hammel (7-8) toe the rubber this Friday, but not the way one might think.
Orioles pitchers have combined to give up 10 less home runs than the team has hit – giving them the lead in both categories with 186 home runs surrendered.
Ranking first in home runs (196 over the second place Jays, who sit at 170) and third overall in team slugging (.437), the Orioles could use the home run-hungry Chris Davis to help vault the team over Cleveland and the New York Yankees in a more-than-marginal win.
Davis’ ticket is just one punch shy of his 50th round trip of the season, batting .297 with 128 RBI and 98 runs. He leads his team in all batting categories save one – Manny Machado is still the king of swing with 181 hits.
Baltimore (77-69) has gone 6-6 over its last 12 games and 24-26 since the All-Star break to further itself from the not-so-distant memories of a 2012 team that went 29-9 in one-run games.
Thursday’s loss puts the O’s at 16-27 in one-run games – the worst in baseball, not to mention their 33-35 record in games decided by two or fewer runs.
“We’ve got to be better,” centre fielder Adam Jones told MLB.com.
“We’ve got to be stronger in the later innings as an offence, and a defence, as a pitching staff… That’s really all there is to it.”
Moises Sierra is looking to leave a good impression as the Jays’ season comes to a close, and could provide the extra bases the Jays need to sway the series in their favour.
“We had four hits, and he had three of them,” John Gibbons told MLB.com on Wednesday’s game. “It’s in there, now it’s just a matter of it coming out.”
The outfielder is proving himself at the plate with a .962 OPS since his Triple-A Buffalo call-up.
Sierra has 11 doubles this month. Thirteen of his past 19 hits have gone for extra bases, averaging at .322 in 20 games since joining the team in August.
The ‘pen was a huge component to Baltimore’s success in making it to the American League Division Series, and Jim Johnson (in spite of a 3-8 record) is doing his part with 43 of the O’s 49 league-leading saves.
According to David Schoenfield of ESPN, the Orioles have blown nine games that they’ve led heading into the ninth inning this season – the MLB average is three.
With Darren O’Day sidelined due to a finger issue, the Orioles are looking to the likes of rookie Kevin Gausman (2-5, 6.30 ERA) to share the workload.
The side-armer is 5-3 with a team-best 2.23 ERA in his 63 outings. His absence will be felt, but manager Buck Showalter is poetically optimistic about his bullpen.
“I present it as something that opens up an opportunity for somebody else to present themselves well,” Showalter told MLB.com on O’Day’s absence.
“That’s the way last year, and a lot of times this year, we found some orchids while searching for roses and having a rose missing, and Darren’s been that,” said Showalter.
Their victory last night kept the Yankees one full game behind the Rays in the chase for the second wild card spot. The Jays will take on the Yankees in a best-of-three after a day of rest on Monday.
Friday, September 13, 2013 @ 7:07 p.m. (EST)
Todd Redmond (3-2), 4.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Jason Hammel (7-8), 5.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
Saturday, September 14, 2013 @ 4:07 p.m. (EST)
Esmil Rogers, (5-7), 4.46 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
Chris Tillman (16-5), 3.66 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Sunday, September 15, 2013
@ 1:07 p.m. (EST)
Mark Buehrle (11-8), 4.18 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Miguel Gonzalez (9-7), 4.00 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Chris Davis is pretty good at hitting home runs. Davis is hitting .297/.380/.652/1.032 in AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS respectively.
Darren O’Day is not travelling with the O’s; he is dealing with a poor grip due to tingling middle and index pitching fingers over the last week or two. He could join the club on the road, but the decision is pending tests.
Jose Reyes went 4-for-4 in last night’s loss to the Angels, including his 10th homer of the season and two doubles with a walk. Reyes had his fifth multi-hit game in September and his second with at least three hits.