Game Threat: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On), Blue Jays (86-70) vs. Orioles (85-71)

Manny Machado
Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go. The BIGGEST SERIES OF THE SEASON UNTIL THE NEXT ONE starts tonight, and… it’s big. It’s not quite on the level of a playoff series. It’s not exactly win or go home. But you sure as hell can’t get swept — not if you’re the visiting trash birds from fucking Baltimore, and not if you’re the suddenly depleted collection of chirping Blue Jays.

You really don’t want to lose this first game, either. The Jays have a one game lead on Baltimore and three game cushion over the Tigers and Astros in the Wild Card race, so it will be hard to fuck this up and end up watching the play-in game from home, but certainly not impossible. And they’re hardly a slam dunk to maintain their lead and host that play-in game, either. Especially now without Devon Travis and Joaquin Benoit on the sidelines.

Sigh.

But we can’t do anything but press on, and cheer on, and hope that a big win here gives us a little breathing room in the coming days. Because a loss sure would make us hyperventilate. But maybe we need to just accept that these next six games are going to be full of that and get on with it and get fuckin’ hyped.

Right?

Right.

LET’S DO THIS! (Now don’t forget to distribute the rocket boots.)

Scuttlebutt

Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that Joaquin Benoit has been told that he will hopefully be back in 2-3 weeks after tearing his left calf muscle running in from the bullpen during last night’s rhubarb. Ugh.

Double ugh: as if the sensible guy was the one who got hurt in this stupidity.

Arden Zwelling writes at Sportsnet about Devon Travis’s optimism about his flared-up shoulder, which he hopes won’t keep him out long. Arden also tweets a quote from trainer George Poulis on how Travis is progressing.

The Jays announced this afternoon that 80s B-movie villain Brady Dragmire has been D’d FA in order to clear a roster spot for Chris Smith in September.

Hudson Belinsky reports that the Jays have hired Red Sox assistant scouting director Steve Sanders to be their full-fledged scouting director. Given the well oiled machine that is the Red Sox, and the fact that they’re not exactly the team that an organization looking to fill roles on the cheap will look to raid, it’s hard to see this as anything but a good thing.

On a similar front, earlier in the week Minnesota hired Derek Falvey out of the Cleveland organization to oversee their Baseball Operations department. WEIRD, HUH? Because here’s the thing: Cleveland actually produces sought-after executives, and the fact that the Jays have taken advantage of the new regime’s connection there is a good thing.

Lastly, Keith Law doesn’t think the Jays’ plan for their new spring facilities is a great one… because they’re in Dunedin. Counterpoint.

TV: Sportsnet
Next Game(s): Tomorrow vs. Orioles, 7:07 PM ET
AL Wild Card StandingsTOR (+1), BAL (-), DET (2), SEA (2), HOU (3.5)
And now, the lineups…

Toronto Blue Jays

Ezequiel Carrera(L) LF
Josh Donaldson(R) 3B
Edwin Encarnacion(R) 1B
Jose Bautista(R) DH
Russell Martin(R) C
Troy Tulowitzki(R) SS
Michael Saunders(L) RF
Kevin Pillar(R) CF
Darwin Barney(R) 2B
Aaron Sanchez RHP

Baltimore Orioles

Adam Jones(R) CF
Chris Davis(L) 1B
Manny Machado(R) 3B
Mark Trumbo(R) RF
Pedro Alvarez(L) DH
Jonathan Schoop(R) 2B
Matt Wieters(S) C
Michael Bourn(L) LF
J.J. Hardy(R) SS
Kevin Gausman RHP