It all begins tonight.
The wait for the 2016 postseaon is over, and this year’s edition of October baseball should be nothing short of spectacular.
Our first does of chaos? A one game do-or-die matchup between two highly competitive AL East foes; the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.
After playing for their lives all the way up to game 162 in a uber-competitive division that featured four teams with winning records, the US/Canada battle will decide who moves on to Arlington Thursday and who goes home after night one.
And tonight’s contenst at Rogers Centre should go down to the wire.
The season series between the two was about as evenly matched as it could get. Of the 19 games played, Toronto won the series 10-9, just good enough for home field as the two clubs tied with an 89-73 record.
Now the two hard hitting squads battle it out one last time. Chris Tillman vs. Marcus Stroman. Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo vs. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson. Buckle up.
But to the question you’ve all been waiting for: who advances?
There are certainly more than a few factors in this one that favor the O’s. For starters, Tillman went 16-6 this season while Stroman went just 10-9. Factor in Zach Britton’s dominance too, and Baltimore clearly has the edge when it comes to pitching.
And then there’s the long ball. Mark Trumbo led the AL in homers this season. Machado, Jontahan Schoop, and Adam Jones aslo all showed off their power at the plate. That’s a scary line up to face, no matter who you are, no matter who you throw.
But Toronto will be ready to stand their ground. Joey Bats and Donaldson will look to offset Baltimore’s power with their own. And don’t forget the supporting cast either. Edwin Encarnacion was one of the top batters for the Jays all season, and Justin Smoak can work the long ball pretty well. And the crowd of 50,000 at Rogers Centre will be as loud as ever.
Baltimore may have more momentum headed into this series between the two teams, but Toronto now has some swagger back after taking two of three from the AL East champ Red Sox this weekend. When the teams take the field at 8 p.m. ET tonight, we find out who prevails in this intra-division showdown. And it my opinion, the home crowd combined with AL MVP talent in Donaldson will be too much for Tillman and the O’s to handle.
Blue Jays: 6, Orioles: 4
Photo credit: The Globe and Mail