Matz sharpened, Jays beat Orioles 6-4 to stay in wild card race
Steven Matz pitched seven solid innings to win his fifth straight decision, Danny Jansen hit a home run and produced three runs, and the Toronto Blue Jays kept up their playoff hopes by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Friday night. .
“It’s exciting,” Matz said. “We’re playing some big games in October so it’s a lot of fun.”
Toronto (89-71) stayed one game away from Boston, which retained second place in the AL wild card by beating Baltimore. Seattle, tied with Boston entering Friday, played later. The New York Yankees are still in first place in the wild card but lost to Tampa Bay, narrowing their lead to one game against Boston and two against Toronto.
The Orioles scared the Blue Jays with an eighth of four points, but closest Jordan Romano limited the damage by securing the last five strikeouts for his 23rd save on 24 occasions.
Jansen hit a two-run homerun from Thomas Eshelman (0-3) in the third inning, his 10th, and Corey Dickerson added a solo shot from Brooks Kriske in the Toronto four-run sixth.
The Blue Jays lead the majors with 253 home runs this season, four short of the club’s record set in 2010.
Dickerson’s explosion was the first of five consecutive two-strike hits by the Blue Jays. Santiago Espinal and Jansen had back-to-back doubles, and Cavan Biggio shot a single and finished second on a pitch. George Springer followed with an infield single, and Biggio raced home before second baseman Pat Valaika’s shot to give Springer his 500th career RBI.
Matz (14-7) allowed two runs and six hits, a walking goal and five strikeouts in his longest outing of the season. The southpaw is 5-0 with a 2.90 ERA in nine starts since his last loss on Aug. 10 to the Angels.
“He was exceptional,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He was probably the main reason we won this game. “
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde credited Matz with stopping the Baltimore bats.
“It was the best I’ve seen him throw in a long time, just the command, how aggressive he was in the strike zone,” Hyde said. “He had a really good breaking ball. He made it really difficult for our hitters.
Toronto made double plays behind Matz in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
“I felt good about my business today,” Matz said. “Really, the name of the game all year for me has been quick change and working on that stuff. Today I had the curve too.
Kelvin Gutierrez spoiled Matz’s shutout attempt with a first homer in the eighth. After Tyler Nevin walked 3-2, Matz received a standing ovation from the crowd of 28,855.
“It was awesome,” Matz said.
Valaika greeted reliever Adam Cimber with a two-run homerun, reducing him to 6-3. Richie Martin failed, Cedric Mullins was hit by a pitch and Cimber left after Ryan Mountcastle’s single.
Romano came on and helped Austin Hays work his way into picking a defensive player. Trey Mancini followed with an RBI single and Pedro Severino walked to charge the goals before Gutierrez relied on the choice of a defensive player.
“We were one step away from making it really interesting,” Hyde said.
Eshelman allowed two runs and three hits in 2 2/3 innings.
“They attacked from the start,” Eshelman said.
Matz is Toronto’s first 14-game winner since 2016, when JA Happ won 20 and Aaron Sanchez won 15.
Jansen is hitting .327 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 19 games since being taken off the injured list on Aug.31.
The Orioles have lost 18 of their last 22 away games.
Baltimore recalled RHP Isaac Mattson from Triple-A Norfolk and chose LHP Alexander Wells, who made his final start of the season in Thursday’s win over Boston.
RHP Blue Jays Alek Manoah (8-2, 3.35 ERA) take on LHP Orioles John Means (6-8, 3.32) on Saturday. Manoah is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts.