Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles scored a big victory over the first-place Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night. Now, the question is, can Baltimore come up with one more in Wednesday's finale of this crucial series.
Matt Wieters hit a tie-breaking eighth-inning homer, giving the Orioles a 5-3 victory on Tuesday. That brought Baltimore (72-60) to within three games of the Jays (75-57) and one behind Boston (73-59), who also lost Tuesday.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said there is no doubt that was a big win but the Orioles also need another Wednesday and more after that.
"If you look at who you're playing and who you're chasing, and how many games are left, I'm not going to deny that storyline," Showalter said. "But it's still another ... it's part of the journey and a part of the challenge that you face trying to do what we're trying to do."
Wieters put it very simply when asked about the importance of the series finale. He said that they've got to put the dramatic Tuesday victory away.
"We've got to come back and win another one tomorrow," Wieters said.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said his team is very much aware of what is coming in the final weeks -- American League East baseball.
In fact, 24 of the Jays' last 31 games will be in the division. So he said it's about continuing to play good baseball at the right time. The Jays got hot late last year and ran to the division title -- and it's looking like they're starting to do something like that again.
"We know what we're up against, some good teams, teams that we always have battles against," Gibbons said. "So you never feel great. You've still got to play them. Really, anybody gets hot at the right time, or cools off...a lot of teams, that's all it takes sometimes. There's not a lot of games left but there is a lot of games left."
The Jays will send right-hander Aaron Sanchez (12-2, 2.99 ERA) to the mound versus Baltimore right-hander Yovani Gallardo (4-6, 5.69 ERA) on Wednesday.
Toronto has been watching Sanchez's innings count carefully as he was mostly a reliever before this season and hadn't pitched more than 92 1/3 innings in a season.
But Sanchez already is at 156 1/3 innings over 24 starts, and the Jays last started him on Aug. 20. He had been sent down to Class A Dunedin to do some work since then, and this will be his first major-league appearance since that start.
Gallardo has struggled off and on all season. He pitched better in four straight starts before giving up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings in the Aug. 26 loss against the Yankees in New York.
Adam Jones has missed four straight games for Baltimore with a strained hamstring but Showalter said he is close to returning.
Toronto will need to open a spot for Sanchez, and Gibbons said Tuesday night that Darwin Barney is going home to take care of some personal business. Ryan Goins will join the team and take his spot.