BALTIMORE — The champagne is on ice. The Toronto Blue Jays can clinch the American League East with a win today over the Baltimore Orioles.
Their game Tuesday night against the Orioles was postponed because of rain, forcing today’s doubleheader at Camden Yards.
Toronto has already assured itself at least a spot in the AL wild-card game and has a magic number of one to clinch the division with the Yankees’ loss at home to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The single-admission doubleheader starts at 2:05 p.m. Marcus Stroman (3-0, 1.89 earned-run average), who was scheduled to start Tuesday, will take the mound for the first game and R.A. Dickey (11-11, 4.00 ERA) the second. Miguel Gonzalez (9-11, 4.85) starts Game 1 for Baltimore and Kevin Gausman (3-7, 4.49) Game 2.
“Tomorrow it is,” Stroman tweeted. “Rain, rain, go away!”
Ace David Price (18-5, 2.45) remains on rotation to start Thursday. It would be his final start of the regular season and put him on extra rest for Game 1 of the AL Division Series or a wild-card game.
By that point, the Blue Jays could be aiming for the top seed in the American League and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They lead the Kansas City Royals by a game for that and have the tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record.
The first order of business is the division. The Blue Jays got to the ballpark Tuesday knowing they could celebrate that in a matter of hours if they won and the Yankees lost.
“I don’t know if I feel any different,” manager John Gibbons said. “I know what’s going on. I’m conscious of that, but I don’t think I felt any different.”
Clinching the division has felt like an inevitability for a few days, after the Blue Jays walked off with a victory Sunday in their home finale and came back to beat the Orioles on Monday night in their series opener. They lead the Yankees by five games with six to play for each team.
Like the Yankees in late July when the Blue Jays started their magical run, the Royals at one point looked untouchable for the top spot. Since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto is 41-14 and right in it.
“The Royals were running away with this thing a little bit and we were coming to the ballpark really playing meaningful games at least since I got here,” Tulowitzki said. “Every game’s been meaningful. We’ve needed to win them.”
Gibbons said some of his top players will get a day off once the Blue Jays clinch the division, which assures them a place in the ALDS and not a one-game wild-card play-in Tuesday at Rogers Centre. But with three games left against the Orioles and three at the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend, home field is in their sights.
“We’d love to do that,” Gibbons said. “I think that’d be very important. Every team would want to do that. … It’ll keep you sharp, keep you playing.”
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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press