From here until the end of the season, all divisional series hold a strong level of importance, especially in the AL East. With a tight race between multiple teams, any chance a club can get to play the first-place team at home they must take advantage of. That is the situation right now for the Blue Jays as they host the Orioles, and despite not being able to open the series on a high note, we’ll preview tonight’s game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
The Orioles beating the Yankees in a weekend series that culminated with a big Sunday Night Baseball win is not something baseball fans have seen often over the years, and after that big win, they were tasked with heading to Toronto to face off with the Blue Jays and Chris Bassitt. With the odds stacked against them, they still came away with a 4-2 victory, getting big hits from Gunnar Henderson and Ryan Mountcastle.
Baltimore also got a big-time start from veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson, who gave his team six innings and allowed just one earned run. Tonight the Orioles will hand the ball to Kyle Bradish to make his 20th start of the season. Bradish had his first bad outing in quite a while his last time on the mound, allowing five earned runs over 6.2 innings, but overall the right-hander is still pitching to a 3.29 ERA.
Bradish will match up with a Blue Jays lineup tonight that went from being one of the hottest lineups in baseball to scoring a combined four runs over their last two games. In their loss last night, Toronto registered just five hits, and two of them came off the bat of Bo Bichette, who left the game early due to injury. The Blue Jays would ultimately leave 22 runners on base last night, as they failed to get the timely hits that Baltimore was able to come up with.
As Toronto looks to even the series, they will have lefty Hyun Jin Ryu on the mound for this first start of the season. The left-hander made four rehab starts in the minors since his Tommy John surgery and pitched to a 2.00 ERA in those outings, but he will have his work cut out for him tonight with the Orioles' offense.
The Baltimore Orioles are currently listed at (-105) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Not only does Baltimore have a ton of momentum at the moment, but the Blue Jays have been unable to win games within the division and now will roll out a starter that hasn’t seen Big League hitters in over a year.
Over the last month, the Orioles rank 12th in wOBA, 11th in OPS, and 10th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching on the road. In his short season last year and all of 2021, Ryu has struggled in his home ballpark, pitching to a 7.27 ERA in 17.1 innings last season and a 4.91 ERA in 88 innings in 2021, so the mix of his return, the Orioles lineup, and his struggles at the Rogers Centre there are plenty of reasons to be thrilled as a Baltimore backer.
For the Blue Jays' offense, it’s safe to assume that Bo Bichette will likely be out of the lineup tonight, so they will be missing a large piece of their offensive production. On top of that, Kyle Bradish has put up a 3.51 FIP on the road this season, and the last time he faced Toronto, he pitched seven innings while allowing just one earned run.
Baltimore Orioles (-105)