Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 47th home run and the Toronto Blue Jays pressed their AL wild-card chase to the final day of the regular season by thumping the Baltimore Orioles 10-1 Saturday.
The Blue Jays launched five homers while Alek Manoah allowed one hit over seven innings to help Toronto close within one game of wild card co-leaders Boston and the New York Yankees.
“It’s October baseball and we’re trying to make a push,” Manoah said. “We’re just focused on controlling what we can control.”
The Blue Jays are 2-0 to start October after going 20-9 in September.
“The level of confidence that we’re playing with right now is amazing,” Manoah said. “Everything is kind of clicking, our bullpen, our starters, our offense.”
George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen all went deep for Toronto. The Blue Jays lead the majors with a franchise-record 258 home runs, topping the 257 they hit in 2010.
With New York losing 12-3 at home against the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston’s 5-3 win against Washington, the Blue Jays have now climbed to within one game of the Yankees and Red Sox in the American League wild-card grapple.
The Red Sox need a win Sunday to punch a playoff ticket where they’ll host Tuesday’s wild-card game regardless of New York’s outcome. If the Red Sox lose Sunday, they will still be assured entry into a tiebreaker game Monday.
The Blue Jays and Yankees could potentially find themselves in a four-way tie with Boston and Seattle at the end of the regular season. That would mean two tie-breaker games on Monday, with the winners gaining the two American League wild-card slots and playing on Tuesday.
Manoah (9-2) retired the final 12 batters he faced and struck out 10. The rookie has a 1.69 ERA in winning his past four starts – his streak includes two wins over Tampa Bay, the AL’s best team.
Springer had four hits and scored twice. Santiago Espinal had three hits and an RBI as Toronto collected 14 hits, the 71st time this season they’ve had 10 or more.
With his 450-foot drive off John Means (6-9) in the first, Guerrero closed within one of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez for the major league lead.
“They gave me the pitch I was looking for, what I was working on in BP, and I took advantage of that,” Guerrero said through a translator.
Hernandez hit a solo shot off Means in the first, his 32nd, and Springer hit a three-run homer off Means in the second, his 20th. Springer is among seven Toronto players to hit 20 or more home runs this season, joining Guerrero, Hernandez, Marcus Semien, Bichette, Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Toronto also had seven players hit 20 or more in 2000 and 2010.
Toronto became the fourth AL East team to reach 90 wins, making this the first division since three-division play started in 1994 with four 90-win teams. It’s only the second since division play began in 1969 that it’s happened – the 1978 AL East also had four 90-win teams with New York, Boston, Milwaukee and Baltimore.
“It’s impressive, man,” Montoyo said. “This team deserves so much credit, and we’re going to go all the way to 162. I’m so proud of these guys.”
The game was delayed for several minutes after home plate umpire Chris Guccione left the field to receive medical attention following the top of the third inning. Guccione was eventually replaced by second base umpire Chris Conroy. Crew chief Mark Wegner remained at first base with Alan Porter at third.
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