Gut Check: Jays host Orioles

The Toronto Blue Jays limped home from Houston after a third-straight loss and stand on the brink of another disappointing season as they get set for a divisional showdown with Baltimore

You can try and imagine the visitor’s clubhouse at Minute Maid Field late Sunday night following Toronto’s 6-1 defeat to the lowly Astros. Manager John Gibbons was likely stationed behind closed doors, planning his media blurb that would write off the letdown to fatigue. Toronto did play exceptionally well in the first two legs of their three-stop road trip, outscoring Boston and the New York Yankees 39-18 with five wins in six days. The Jays also won the opener in Houston, 6-5, thanks to some late-inning heroics by Nolan Reimold along with near perfect relief pitching by Aaron Sanchez (W, 2-0) and Casey Janssen (18th save).

 

So seven games into a road trip, climbing within a couple games of first and staring down a series with the O’s, perhaps the stage was set. The question now is how will Toronto respond to the situation? A long, quiet flight home followed by an off-day to recoup gives this club plenty of time to reflect on the season and refocus their efforts. Gibbons, along with Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and the veteran starting pitchers will say what they can to try and inspire their teammates but Baltimore is just as hungry as Toronto for a division title.

 

The Greek has Toronto listed as a -115 moneyline favorite to win the series. Baltimore is -105. Projected matchups show Bud Norris (8-7, 3.69 ERA) against left-hander Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.11 ERA) in the opener, Wei-Yin Chen (12-3, 3.76 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchison (7-9, 4.62 ERA) in game 2 and Miguel Gonzalez (5-6, 3.93 ERA) taking on J.A. Happ (8-5, 4.34 ERA) in the finale. These teams are scheduled to meet again September 15 in Baltimore (three games) with another series at Rogers Centre booked Sept. 26-28).

 

At 60-53 (.531), the Jays are on pace with 2008 (86-76, .531) when they finished the campaign going 32-22 (.593) in the months of August and September. For those six games against Baltimore to truly matter, Toronto must prove right now it can shake the disappointment from last weekend and get back to the aggressive attitude it’s used to generate one of their (so far), most meaningful seasons in 20 years.

SPORTS DATABASE SDQL TOOLBOX

– Since 2006, the Jays are 53-23 (.701) at home against the Orioles, producing a profit of +$2,166 for a $100 bettor. It’s their greatest win percentage (WP) and return on investment (ROI) vs. all American League teams in that time frame.

– Toronto is 1-2 at home vs. the O’s this year but they have not finished with a sub-.500 record vs. this foe since 2005 (4-6 SU)

– Mark Buehrle’s teams are a combined 121-62 (+39.9 units) at home since 2004, the most profitable of all starting pitchers in that era. Second on the list is Jered Weaver (+32.9 units) followed by Zack Greinke (+31.8 units).

– Since Buehrle became a Jay, Toronto is 18-8 at home on an average line of -128 (+9.2 units). They’ve outscored opponents 4.4-4.0 producing 9 overs, 15 unders and 2 pushes (63-percent UNDER).

– The Orioles are 27-17 this year when facing an opponent whose starter’s WHIP is greater than 1.30. That includes a current streak of six-straight wins and a 9-2 mark since June 17. Buehrle and Hutchison have respective WHIP’s of 1.33 and 1.35.

– Since June 3, Baltimore is 7-2 on the road facing starters with a WHIP greater than 1.30 and the O’s have scored an average of 5.8 runs per game (RPG), not once finishing with fewer than four runs. The O’s team total for the opener is listed at 4 OV (-125).

 

Baltimore has had to endure a minor inconvenience the past few days, stopping in Washington for a quick 7-3 win before travelling north of the border. The Jays are 7-1 in this particular spot and Buehrle is the man you want to be handing the ball to for the first game of an important home series but we feel the odds maker has done a good job on tonight’s line (coin flip odds) and looking ahead, we give a slight advantage to Baltimore.

Pick: Take the Orioles (-105) to win the series

 

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