Jays face another pressure-packed game vs. Orioles

Field Level Media

October 02, 2021 at 7:06 am.

The Toronto Blue Jays face another vital game Saturday afternoon as they try to defeat the visiting Baltimore Orioles for a second straight day to maintain their postseason hopes.

The Blue Jays (89-71) won the opener of the three-game series 6-4 on Friday to remain one game out of a playoff position. The Red Sox (90-70) are a game up on both Toronto and the Seattle Mariners (89-71) for the second American League wild-card spot.

Boston beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Friday while Seattle lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Angels.

The New York Yankees (91-69) fell 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays, a result that cut their lead for the first AL wild-card position to just one game over the Red Sox.

The Blue Jays will hope to continue their season-long mastery of Orioles (52-108), having won 12 of the first 17 meetings.

Toronto led 6-0 on Friday and appeared to be cruising until Baltimore scored four runs in the eighth. Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano pitched 1 2/3 innings to earn his 23rd save.

“We gave them a run,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “They have to bring their closer in with one out in the eighth, load the bases, the go-ahead run at first base with some really good at-bats. …

“I thought we battled back. It was a really good environment tonight, and we were one hit away there from making it really interesting.”

Blue Jays starter Steven Matz took a shutout into the eighth but failed to retire the first two batters before being replaced by Adam Cimber.

Matz allowed a solo homer to Kelvin Gutierrez, then walked Tyler Nevin. Cimber entered and gave up a two-run shot to Pat Valaika.

“It’s Oct. 1, you want to be pitching in important games,” Matz said. “It’s definitely a good feeling. The crowd is awesome here. You definitely get a little adrenaline boost.”

The Blue Jays got some help from an unexpected source on Friday, as Cavan Biggio played first base and was 3-for-4 with an RBI. It was his first major league game since Aug. 2, as he had been sidelined due to back issues.

“To be on the field and be in front of those fans, I don’t want to get emotional, but it was pretty special,” Biggio said.

Toronto got a two-run homer and an RBI double from Danny Jansen and a solo homer from Corey Dickerson.

Rookie right-hander Alek Manoah (8-2, 3.35 ERA) will start for Toronto on Saturday. He has no record and a 4.82 ERA in two starts against the Orioles this season.

Left-hander John Means (6-8, 3.32 ERA) will start for the Orioles. He will be facing the Blue Jays for the first time this season. He is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in three career starts against them.

With Biggio playing first base, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter. It ended his 15-game hitting streak against Baltimore in which he batted .373 (22-for-59) with two doubles, 10 home runs, 20 RBIs and a 1.348 OPS.

Over his past eight games, Guerrero is batting 3-for-32 (.094) with two walks and two RBIs.

Orioles catcher Pedro Severino was 1-for-3 with a walk to extend his career-best hitting streak to 10 games, 13-for-37 (.351) with four walks.

Baltimore recalled right-hander Isaac Mattson, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings Friday, and optioned left-hander Alexander Wells to Triple-A Norfolk.