The Toronto Blue Jays bounced back from Monday night’s meltdown in an ideal way on Tuesday, defeating the visiting Baltimore Orioles 5-1 with a well-rounded effort.
Catching Boston in the American League East remains an unrealistic goal, but this win gave the Blue Jays a full two games of breathing room between themselves and the Orioles for the home Wild Card spot. Even with a split over the next two games, the Blue Jays would enter their final series in Boston with a stronghold on that position.
Leading the charge on Tuesday night were two players: One likely, and one less so.
Sanchez, against all expectations, is showing zero signs of slowing down late in the season. His six innings against the Orioles pushed him to 185.0 on the season, but his velocity and effectiveness are still right where they need to be.
Sanchez allowed just one run on five hits and struck out 10 batters. He’ll now enter a crowded conversation for who starts the Blue Jays first playoff game, which is a good problem to have for manager John Gibbons.
Carrera was thrust into the leadoff spot with Devon Travis (shoulder) out of the lineup, and had one of his biggest games of the season. The left-fielder launched his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot, and ended the day 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Stretching back to the All-Star break, Carrera’s numbers are very poor (.179 BA), but there is a legitimate possibility that he steals some pivotal playing time from Michael Saunders down the stretch and into the playoffs. Besides, he’s earning Gibbons’ trust when it matters most.
After Jason Grilli‘s blown save against the Yankees, Toronto saw much better results from Joe Biagini and Roberto Osuna. Recently, Gibbons had suggested that Biagini’s workload would be scaled back slightly amid his frequent appearances and some recent struggles. He looked very strong, though, striking out two batters over two scoreless innings. Osuna entered in a non-save situation and worked around two base hits for a scoreless ninth.
With Joaquin Benoit out for at least the beginning of the playoffs, the Blue Jays recalled reliever Chris Smith prior to Tuesday’s game. Along with smith, utility man Andy Burns is now with the MLB roster to give the infield some added flexibility after Devon Travis’ injury. Thankfully for the Blue Jays, Travis’ surgically-repaired shoulder did not endure any serious damage and he should be returning to the lineup shortly.