Believe it, folks. As of now, the Blue Jays are closer to winning the AL East than they are of being out of a playoff spot.
The Blue Jays got some help from the long ball, as Matt Chapman homered twice, and George Springer added a 3-run homer in the 5th to propel Toronto to a 6-3 win over the Orioles on Friday night. The win also distances the Orioles from the playoff picture even more, with Baltimore now dropping to 4.5 games back of Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot.
The Blue Jays went with a bullpen game, and John Schneider decided to go with Trevor Richards, who got his third “start” of the season as an opener. Richards struck out the side in the first inning, only one day after he threw 29 pitches and allowing 5 earned runs to the Rays on Thursday. It was big time from Richards, and it was even better of Schneider to instill his confidence in Richards to get three outs to start the game.
Chapman put the Blue Jays ahead early with a solo home run in the second inning, giving the Jays a 1-0 lead. He hit it 106 mph off the bat, reaching 392 feet in no time.
After Julian Merryweather pitched two clean innings, Schneider went with Yusei Kikuchi. Unfortunately, Kikuchi allowed a leadoff triple to Cedric Mullins, followed by a 2-run home run from Adley Rutschman. It looked like Baltimore would be ready to tag Kikuchi with 20 more runs, but he rebounded in a strong way, retiring the next six batters in order with four strikeouts. Two innings was all that Schneider let Kikuchi have, but he was rewarded with the win, his 5th of the season.
With the Jays trailing 2-1, Springer launched a 3-run home run off of Jordan Lyles to put Toronto back ahead. It was Springer’s second home run in three games, and this one was emphatic as it brought the 36,573 fans in the Rogers Center on their feet.
Chapman added his second home run of the night in the 6th, providing some insurance for the Blue Jays as they led 6-2. It was Chapman’s 26th home run of the season, and he is well within striking distance to perhaps lead the team in home runs as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is only two above him with 28.
Chapman also became the sixth third baseman in Blue Jays history to have at least 25 home runs in a season, and the first since Josh Donaldson in 2017. I hope an Oakland A’s fan or two read this article at some point.
In all, the Blue Jays used seven relievers, but only Merryweather and Kikuchi threw over 15 pitches. Jose Berrios gets the start tomorrow afternoon, as he looks to continue a solid month of September. With his ERA at 5.07, he can get it under 5 for the first time since July 31st. It’d also be nice for him to go 6 to 7 innings so that the bullpen can get some rest after last night’s game. He’ll be opposed by Kyle Bradish, who as allowed 14 earned runs to the Blue Jays in four starts this season.