Can Toronto win 2 Straight Games and Still Win the Wild Card Playoff Series Against the Underrated Mariners?
It's call come down to one final game.
Toronto Blue Jays, the team many picked to win the American League pennant this season are down to a last strike. They face the Cinderella Seattle Mariners today at home in Game 2 of the "Best of 3" format.
The Blue Jays must win today, and tomorrow, or their season will be over.
SPREADS.CA lists the following odds:
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Prediction (powered by Pointspreads.ca):
We believe Seattle is a very dangerous wild card round opponent. The Mariners had just 2 fewer regular season wins than the Blue Jays, yet are priced as the second-biggest longshot of all the eight teams in this round. Anything can happen in any three-game series.
Add the fact that Seattle was 44-37 on the road, which is nearly as good as Toronto's home record (47-34).
We see the market still believes in Toronto, which was the preseason favourite to win the AL pennant. However, the value in this series is clearly with the underdog Mariners.
Sorry, Blue Jays fans. We like Seattle getting close to 3:2 odds on the payout to advance.
According to MLB.com:
After taking Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series, 4-0, Seattle will roll with lefty Robbie Ray on Saturday. Toronto will count on Kevin Gausman to right the ship after a disappointing performance on both ends of the ball in the club’s first home postseason contest since 2016.
If the Mariners can maintain the momentum set by Luis Castillo and their offense, they will be in a good position to expedite a date with the Astros in the ALDS. Ray, who won a Cy Young Award with Toronto last year, will play a big role in those plans.
This will be the first time Ray has pitched in Toronto since leaving in free agency.
“I treat every game the same,” he said ahead of Game 1. “I go out there, and my goal is to put up zeros and give my team a chance to win. Get as deep as I can into games -- regardless of the situation, that's my number one goal.”
The key for the Blue Jays will be to re-ignite the offense, which struggled for just one extra-base hit and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position on Friday.
“You expect them to come out with the same energy, the same mentality, the same focus,” said Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider after Friday’s loss. “Flush it and move on. They're going to be ready to go.”
Blue Jays Lineup: With Robbie Ray on the mound for the Mariners, the Blue Jays loaded up on right-handed bats by moving Santiago Espinal into the lineup and sliding Whit Merrifield to the outfield, taking the place of Raimel Tapia.
Otherwise, Toronto's batting order is similar to what you saw in Game 1. Since Danny Jansen caught Gausman in each of his last two regular-season starts, he got the nod behind the plate, with Alejandro Kirk starting at DH.
- George Springer, CF
- Bo Bichette, SS
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B
- Alejandro Kirk, DH
- Teoscar Hernández, RF
- Matt Chapman, 3B
- Danny Jansen, C
- Whit Merrifield, LF
- Santiago Espinal, 2B
Mariners Starting Pitcher: Ray makes a much-anticipated return to Toronto to face the team that he won the AL Cy Young Award with last season, and in a venue where he has a career 2.49 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 65 innings across 10 starts. Making matters even more interesting is that he’ll be squaring off against Gausman, the pitcher the Blue Jays signed to replace him. Though he hasn’t replicated his top-shelf performance from last year, Ray has been mostly what the Mariners hoped for in his debut season in Seattle, with a 3.71 ERA and 212 strikeouts over 32 starts.
Blue Jays Starting Pitcher: Gausman left his final start of the season with a cut on his right middle finger, but that’s no longer an issue and the right-hander is expected to pitch without any restrictions in Game 2. The veteran right-hander finished his season with a 3.35 ERA but was so often the victim of poor luck with batted balls. With a strikeout rate of 10.6 K/9 and walk rate of 1.6 BB/9, Gausman’s peripheral numbers have been excellent.
It’s all about the splitter for Gausman, which the Mariners should see a steady dose of in Game 2. The big pieces of the Blue Jays’ bullpen should be fresh, too, so Toronto is lined up very well from a pitching standpoint, even facing Ray.
“Home-field advantage is huge,” Gausman said. “We’re going to rely on these Canadians to bring some energy. … I like our lineup, I like our staff and our bullpen has been unbelievable all year.”