Blue Jays secure home-field advantage in wild-card series
The Toronto Blue Jays clinched home-field advantage for the wild-card series after beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 Monday night in a rain-shortened affair at Camden Yards. They then had to rely on the Detroit Tigers to top the Seattle Mariners 4-3 later in the evening.
The win means Toronto's three-game opening round against either the Tampa Bay Rays or Mariners will be played entirely at Rogers Centre from Oct. 7-9.
Whoever finishes higher in the standings between the Rays and Mariners will face the Blue Jays. The other team will take on the Cleveland Guardians - who won the AL Central - in a three-game set at Progressive Field.
The winner of the Jays series will face the top-seeded Houston Astros, who earned a first-round bye, in the five-game American League Division Series beginning Oct. 11.
This ends any conjecture that the Jays would use Alek Manoah in the final game of the year in order to secure home field, making him unavailable for the wild-card series. Interim manager John Schneider suggested the team was seriously considering burning the 24-year-old right-hander, as playing three straight games in Toronto was vastly preferred to going on the road to Tampa or Seattle.
Jose Berrios earned the decisive victory, reducing the team's magic number to secure home-field in the first round to one. The right-hander battled inclement weather all evening to allow one run on three hits over six innings with five strikeouts.
Whit Merrifield was a key contributor on offense, going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also hit his 32nd homer of the season.
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