Blue Jays host Orioles with top wild card up for grabs

BY foxsports • September 27, 2016

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles meet Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre that could decide the first wild-card spot in the American League.

The Blue Jays lost Monday 7-5 to the New York Yankees after being outscored 5-2 in the ninth inning, and the Orioles had the day off.

The result left the Blue Jays, who occupy the first wild-card spot, one game ahead of the Orioles, who are in the second wild-card spot.

Each team has six regular-season games left.

The Blue Jays have some injury concerns, the result of two bench-clearing skirmishes in the second inning of the game Monday against the Yankees.

Second baseman Devon Travis had to leave the game on Monday in the sixth inning with a sore shoulder that hampered his swing at the plate. Right-hander Joaquin Benoit, a key member of the bullpen, had to be helped from the field with a calf injury after the second melee.

More is expected to be known about the injuries on Tuesday.

Toronto appeared to have a chance to gain a two-game advantage over the Orioles on Monday when they took a 3-2 lead into the ninth.

With regular closer Roberto Osuna unavailable because of his recent work load, the save opportunity was left to Jason Grilli, who coughed up four hits that included two home runs and four of the Yankees' five runs in the inning.

The Blue Jays scored twice in the bottom of the ninth.

"We're going to come back against Baltimore ready to go," said Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, who was deprived of his 21st win by New York's ninth-inning rally.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Aaron Sanchez (13-2, 3.12 ERA), who has yet to record a decision in three starts in September in which he has a 5.40 ERA. The Blue Jays are 0-3 in those starts even though Sanchez is 0-0.

The Orioles will start right-hander Kevin Gausman (8-11, 3.57 ERA).

Gausman had his start on Sunday bumped to Tuesday to give him more time to rest an intercostal injury. He had five straight quality starts before allowing five runs in 6 1/3 innings to the torrid Boston Red Sox.

"There is something to be gained to winning every game you play," is the way Orioles manager Buck Showalter put it. "There is something to be lost every game you lose. Instead of looking at all things you shoulda, woulda, coulda done to make it a little bit easier, I look at all the things that our guys have done to have this opportunity. I'm proud of them that it's (Sept. 27) and we continue to play important games."

In two starts against the Blue Jays this season, Gausman is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. He has a 4.15 ERA in 11 career games (six starts) against them.

Sanchez is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts against the Orioles this season. He is 4-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 12 games, including seven starts, against them in his career.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons feels his team is ready for the final push.

"These guys are all in a good frame of mind," Gibbons said. "That's one of the real good things about this group. They don't get too high. They don't get too low. So when you hit a tough stretch, there's no panic out there. The guys don't hang their heads or shut it down. They never have. So regardless of how you get in, how you're playing, the reality is we've got to be playing good to even get in."

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