Blue Jays vs. Orioles series preview: Baltimore hanging in after sell-off

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, of Japan, delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP Photo)

The Toronto Blue Jays wrap up a nine-game road trip against teams in the playoff race with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Blue Jays lead the American League wild-card race, while the Orioles are tied for fourth with the Cleveland Guardians, two games back of the final spots jointly held by the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners.

Here is a look at the Blue Jays-Orioles series.

Probable pitchers

Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET / 4:05 p.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-5, 4.86 ERA) vs. Baltimore RHP Jordan Lyles (8-8, 4.40 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET / 4:05 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (12-5, 2.45 ERA) vs. Baltimore RHP Kyle Bradish (1-4, 6.55 ERA)

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET / 4:05 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (8-4, 5.19 ERA) vs. Baltimore RHP Dean Kremer (4-3, 3.43 ERA)

(All games on Sportsnet)

Latest on the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (60-48) got a split of a four-game series in Minnesota with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Twins in 10 innings on Sunday.

Whit Merrifield was originally ruled out on a sacrifice fly in the 10th, but the call was overturned when catcher Gary Sanchez was ruled to have blocked the running lane to the plate.

Jordan Romano, after being unable to hold a 2-1 lead in the ninth, finished the Twins in the 10th to pick up the win.

But there are injury concerns. Outfielder George Springer (elbow) and left-handed reliever Tim Mayza both are out, with the latter at a position where Toronto has little depth.

Toronto is now 3-3 on the road trip.

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Latest on the Orioles

The Orioles (56-52) seemed to all but wave the white towel on the season when they dealt outfielder/infielder Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros and closer Jorge Lopez to the Twins prior to last week’s trade deadline.

However, after those moves were completed, the Orioles won five in a row before the streak came to an end with an 8-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Still, they are now 21-10 in July and August.

The worst team in the AL East in all but one season since Edwin Encarnacion’s walk-off homer against the Orioles in the 2016 Wild Card Game at Rogers Centre, the Orioles seemingly weren’t quite ready to make a serious push at the deadline this year despite turning things around after falling a season-high 11 games under .500 on June 10.

Interestingly, the Orioles had a play similar to Merrifield’s also overturned on Sunday – hurting Baltimore.

Catcher Robinson Chirinos was ruled to have violated the home-plate collision rule after Pittsburgh’s Greg Allen was originally called out after running home in the seventh.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was ejected for arguing the call, just like Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.

He said it

“We want to get into the Wild Card, but it’s my job to manage the organization as a whole from top to bottom. And at times, there are opportunities that feel like a step back. But in the big picture, it’s a step forward for the entire organization, and that’s the position I’m in.”
– Orioles general manager Mike Elias after the trade deadline.

Welcome back

The Orioles are optimistic outfielder Austin Hays (oblique) will return Monday after missing the past four games.

Season series

The Blue Jays and Orioles still have 15 games left against each other.

Their only series so far was a split four-gamer in June at Rogers Centre.

Manoah was lights out in an 11-1 win in the opener, but Kikuchi didn’t make it to the fifth inning in a 6-5 loss the next day.

Toronto won the third game 7-6 when the Orioles made the strange decision to pitch to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to open the 10th inning – and he connected for the winning single. However, Baltimore got the split with a 10-2 demolition on getaway day.

Up next

After an off-day Thursday, the Blue Jays return home for three games against Cleveland and three versus Baltimore.

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