After winning the opener with a bullpen game, the Toronto Blue Jays will start right-hander Jose Berrios for the middle game of their series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Jays (82-63) used seven pitchers on Friday night in their 6-3 victory over the Orioles (75-68) that opened a three-game set. Struggling lefty Yusei Kikuchi (5-7) blew a fifth-inning lead and allowed two runs in two innings but still picked up the win.
Matt Chapman had two home runs and three RBIs while going 3-for-4 and George Springer added a three-run homer for the Blue Jays.
The Orioles, who got home runs from Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, did not lose ground as they hold flickering hopes for an American League wild-card spot. While they fell six games behind the Blue Jays, who sit in the top wild-card position, they remain 4 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays (80-64), who hold the third and final wild-card spot.
The Orioles and Blue Jays are even at 7-7 in their season series that has five games remaining, including a three-game set that ends the season Oct. 3-5 in Baltimore.
Berrios (10-5, 5.07 ERA) is a stellar 7-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 10 career starts against Baltimore. He is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts vs. the Orioles this year. The win came on Sept. 5, when he tossed six-plus innings and gave up three runs, two earned.
The Orioles will start right-hander Kyle Bradish (3-6, 5.01 ERA), who is 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA in his four starts against the Blue Jays, all this season.
“They’re a good opponent on that side, and I think us coming in, we have some guys immediately saying, ‘Let it go, we’ll get them tomorrow,'” said Cedric Mullins, who tripled for the Orioles on Friday. “I think that mindset of not giving in to anything or any obstacles will come across as huge.”
Baltimore right-hander Jordan Lyles, who allowed four runs in five innings on Friday, added, “We’ve got what we want in front of us. This is just one loss. The end of the season’s upon us, and each game means just that much more, but we have a chance to win the series.”
While the Orioles are trying to catch a wild-card spot in a last desperate attempt, the Blue Jays are one game in front of the Seattle Mariners (80-63) and 1 1/2 games up on the Rays.
Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said that he is not concerned about the strength of schedule that each contender has down the stretch. The Mariners appear to be facing the easiest slate among the wild-card contenders.
“If you’re going to be where you want to be, you have to beat good teams eventually, whether it’s in September or October,” Schneider said. “The schedule has been out for a long time, so we know what’s coming. And I think it’s good to keep the intensity, the adrenaline, kind of that feeling that every game is important.”
Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 1-or-4 Friday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games in which he has gone 13-for-44 (.295) with four doubles, a homer and three RBIs.
Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette, who finished 1-for-4 on Friday, has reached base safely in all 16 games this month, batting .471 (32-for-68) with nine doubles, a triple, seven homers and 22 RBIs.
Chapman socked his 25th and 26th home runs of the season on Friday, his first since Aug. 20, ending a season-worst, 25-game homer drought.
–Field Level Media