It’s the continuation of an early week series between a pair of teams in the wild card picture on the diamond north of the border. The Cleveland Indians are on the road as they play the third game of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday night. In the series opener Monday night, it was Cleveland drawing first blood with a 5-2, 10-inning victory. Both teams are in the middle of a crowded wild card picture: which team gains the upper hand here heading into the series finale? This article was written before the conclusion of the second game of the set at Rogers Centre Tuesday night.
Cleveland Indians Trying to Make Up Ground in AL Wild Card RaceCleveland has alternated wins and losses in their last eight games entering Tuesday after picking up the win in extra innings in Monday’s opener. The Indians entered Tuesday second in the AL Central, 8.5 games behind the White Sox for the top spot in the division. In the wild card race, the team was six games behind the A’s for the second wild card spot. On Monday, Cleveland got three hits from Amed Rosario (run, RBI) while Myles Straw (two runs) and Jose Ramirez (run, two RBI) each added a pair. Ramirez clobbered his 23rd homer of the season as part of a three-run 10th inning to give the Indians the victory. Eli Morgan didn’t factor in the decision as he allowed two runs on five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts over six innings of work. Bryan Shaw (4-5) threw a scoreless ninth inning, walking one and striking out two, to earn the win. Emmanuel Clase worked a 1-2-3 10th inning for his 14th save of the year.
Jean Carlos Mejia is on the mound for his 14th appearance and 11th start of the year for the Indians in this contest. He comes in 1-6 with a 7.60 ERA, a 1.489 WHIP, 19 walks and 43 strikeouts over 45 innings of work on the season. Mejia didn’t factor in the decision in his last start, which came Friday on the road against the White Sox. He threw 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts in a game the Indians went on to drop 6-4. On the road this season, Mejia is 1-4 with an 8.33 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP, 13 walks and 25 strikeouts over 27 innings in eight appearances, seven starts. This marks Mejia’s second career appearance and first start against the Blue Jays. He threw 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing no hits with one walk and one strikeout of a 6-5 Indians win in the second game of a doubleheader at home May 30. In his 14th career major league appearance and 11th start, Mejia pitches at Rogers Centre for the first time in this contest.
Toronto Blue Jays Looking to Close Gap in AL Wild Card PictureToronto had won four straight and five of six before coming up short in extra innings on Monday night in the opening game of this set. The Blue Jays entered Tuesday fourth in the AL East, eight games behind the Rays for the top spot in the division race. In the AL wild card race, the team stood four games behind the A’s for the second wild card position. On Monday, George Springer (run) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (run, two RBI) each had two hits for Toronto. Guerrero Jr. hit his 34th homer of the season in a losing effort for the Blue Jays. Robbie Ray pitched well but didn’t factor in the decision as he threw six innings, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Brad Hand (5-6) took the loss in relief as he allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits with no walks and one strikeout in one inning of work.
Steven Matz is on the mound and makes his 19th start of the year for the Blue Jays in this contest. He comes in 8-6 with a 4.58 ERA, a 1.384 WHIP, 25 walks and 91 strikeouts over 90.1 innings of work this season. Matz took the loss in his last start, which came in the second game of a doubleheader on the road against the Red Sox last Wednesday. He threw 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts in a 4-1 Blue Jays defeat. Pitching at home this season, Matz is 2-2 with a 5.51 ERA, a 1.714 WHIP, 13 walks and 27 strikeouts over 32.2 innings in seven starts. Matz makes his fourth career start against the Indians in this contest. He comes in 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA, a 0.873 WHIP, four walks and 20 strikeouts over 18.1 innings of work against them. Matz, in his 131st career major league appearance and 126th start, pitches at Rogers Centre for the first time here.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
We saw a tightly contested and well-pitched game in the opening contest of this series before the Indians managed to earn the win in extra innings. You can probably throw that out the window here as both pitchers have had their struggles. Mejia has been roughed up most of the season and the Indians don’t necessarily have the pieces in their lineup to try and bail him out with a big offensive showing. Toronto, unlike Cleveland, was a buyer at the deadline as they brought in Jose Berrios and Hand, among other pieces. The Blue Jays have a good lineup and they can take advantage of an ineffective pitcher like Mejia. Give the advantage to the hosts as they come up with the victory in this contest.
Full-Game Total Pick
Mejia has seen the over hit in half of his 10 starts this season but given his numbers, that’s more on the lack of consistent offense from the Indians’ lineup. He’s seen an average total of 9.2 runs per game in his 10 starts but on the road, that bumps up to 9.43 runs per contest. Facing a Toronto team that is third in the majors with 5.15 runs per game and who leads the majors with an average of 5.69 runs per game at home is a poor matchup for a guy with an ERA north of eight on the road. Toronto should get six or seven runs in this one. Matz has struggled in his last couple of starts and he has sputtered at home this season. That should help Cleveland get a few runs on the board, pushing this over the total.