After whitewashing the Seattle Mariners in their four-game series last week, the Toronto Blue Jays have come crashing down to earth. They have lost three on the spin against the Atlanta Braves, including two devastating home defeats just as they were beginning to build momentum.
With the Blue Jays now sitting fifth in the American League East, the odds are now stacked heavily against the Canadian outfit reaching the playoffs. There is still a long way to go but victory in the series against Baltimore Orioles is an absolute must. At the time of writing, the series is yet to begin but we’ve had a look at Sunday’s afternoon matchup ahead of what could be a defining moment in the season for both franchises.
Toronto Blue Jays
John Gibbons is in charge of one of the weakest teams in Major League Baseball – Toronto are 50/1 for the World Series with 888Sport and 10Bet – but it would be foolish to write the Blue Jays off completely. Their recent demolition of Seattle showed that Toronto are capable when they put their minds to it but their road form must improve if the Canadian side are to climb the division and compete in the postseason.
Away from home, Toronto have lost 13 of their 20 matches so far this campaign – and that kind of record just won’t be good enough come the business end of the year. With six wins in their last 10 games, the Blue Jays are in reasonably good nick but their disappointing effort in the series against Atlanta could put an end to their decent run of form.
KEY MEN: Joe Biagini. Last season, he was one of the best players for Toronto and he seems to have picked up where he left off at the beginning of the current campaign as well. On his day, Biagini is capable of carrying the Blue Jays to victory and Baltimore will do their utmost to keep him quiet this weekend and throughout the series.
Kevin Pillar. Without question, Pillar has worked his way up to the number one hitter for the Blue Jays and he is, at the time of writing, tied with Starlin Castro for most clean hits this season. If he plays at his brilliant best, Toronto will be quietly confident of causing an upset against the Orioles.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are flying high in second spot in the division and Baltimore will be quietly confident of extending their recent run of good form against Toronto. At home, they have won 13 of their 16 games so far this campaign – an excellent run of results and it would take a brave man to back against the Orioles at Oriole Park.
As of May 18th, they are just one win behind the New York Yankees at the top of the East and Baltimore will know that a washout victory against Toronto could see the Orioles take over at the summit. One thing is certain, Buck Showalter’s men will be going all out for the win this weekend.
KEY MAN: Chris Davis. While he hasn’t been as effective at the beginning of the year, Davis is one of the most consistent players in Major League Baseball. With 15 home runs already this season, he is a big hitter and Toronto’s pitchers will be wary of getting hit hard.
A difficult series to predict: Toronto have the better recent form but Baltimore’s class could show through if they perform well. Sunday’s result will probably be determined by what happens in the games before it but in a one-off encounter, it is hard to back against the Orioles in a tight-knit contest.
BLUE JAYS 4-6 ORIOLES