Wild-card hopeful Blue Jays take aim at lowly Orioles

National Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will be out to win their third straight game and step up their push for a postseason spot Monday night when they play the visiting Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series.

The Blue Jays won the rubber match of a three-game series with the host Detroit Tigers 2-1 on Sunday.

After winning only six of their past 16, the Blue Jays are 5 1/2 games out of the second American League wild-card spot and need to climb over three teams to make their second straight postseason appearance.

The Blue Jays expect to have center fielder George Springer (sprained left knee) back in the lineup soon, possibly by Monday.

“He looked good, he ran the bases well, and he felt good,” Blue Jays Charlie Montoyo said of Springer on Sunday. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be up to him — he’s the one who knows his body.”

Montoyo has said that Springer will be used frequently as DH on his return.

Playing Baltimore, owners of baseball’s worst record, 10 times in Toronto’s final 33 games of the season could provide a boost for the Blue Jays’ playoff chances.

Baltimore had lost 19 in a row before beating the Los Angeles Angels twice this past week.

The Orioles were then swept in a three-game series by the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, including a 12-8 loss on Sunday. The Orioles lost 18 of 19 in the season series with the Rays, who lead the American League East. Toronto has won six of nine games with Baltimore.

“You want to go out there and win every day,” said Ryan Mountcastle, who hit his 24th home run of the season for Baltimore on Sunday. “It’s obviously a lot more fun when you win. We’re all going to keep pounding away at the rest of this season and hopefully get some more wins down the stretch here.”

The Blue Jays have had trouble hitting in their recent games, while their pitching has been good, particularly from the starting rotation.

“We’re winning because of pitching and defense, and that’s great,” Montoyo said. “Nail-biters every day. It’s good that we’re winning games when we’re not hitting, because you know we’re better than what we’re doing right now at the plate. So, that’s coming. I know I keep saying that and it hasn’t come, but it will come.”

Toronto will start left-hander Robbie Ray (9-5, 2.72 ERA) on Monday. Ray took the loss June 18 at Baltimore when he allowed two earned runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. In three career starts against Baltimore, he is 1-2, 5.79 ERA.

Baltimore will send out right-hander Chris Ellis (1-0, 3.86), who will be making his second start in his fourth career major league game. His only big league win came Aug. 17 against the Orioles, who then claimed him on waivers from the Rays, He allowed three runs and five hits in three innings against the Angels on Wednesday. He has never faced the Blue Jays.

Orioles starter Spenser Watkins and reliever Paul Fry, who combined to allow 10 runs Sunday, were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game.

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals, made his debut for the Blue Jays Sunday as a pinch runner, took over in center field and was 0-for-1.

Blue Jays infielder Santiago Espinal (right hip-flexor strain) was placed on the injured list.

–Field Level Media

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