HASH(0xb41f58)

Blue Jays, Orioles renew rivalry in wild-card rematch

Blue Jays, Orioles renew rivalry in wild-card rematch

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles start a new baseball season the same way they ended the last one: with a game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Opening day at Camden Yards on Monday features a matchup between AL East rivals with high hopes of making a return trip to the post-season.

“Anytime you play games in the division, those are the games that matter,” said Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, who will make his first opening day start.

When Toronto and Baltimore met in the AL wild-card game last October, the stakes were significantly higher. The winner advanced in the playoffs, the loser went home.

Toronto prevailed when Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer off Ubaldo Jimenez in the 11th inning.

“It hurt. It hurt for a while,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said Sunday. “As long as baseball was being played last year, it was crossing all our minds.”

The Orioles insist they’ve put that game behind them. Their focus is solely on this season, and it all begins with a matchup against a team they don’t like but certainly respect.

“Toronto’s a good club,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We know they’re going to be in contention, so it’s a good test for us early.”

Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA in 29 starts last year) will start on the mound for the Blue Jays.

“It could’ve been any one of the other guys. That’s how deep we are,” Estrada said. “I say they basically had a hat and they just pulled my name out. It just happened to be my turn.”

Toronto and Baltimore both finished 89-73 last year, but the Blue Jays hosted the wild-card game because they won the season series 10-9. That’s how evenly matched these teams are.

And now, after a particularly long spring training, it’s time to get back at it.

“It’s almost like a Broadway play. You do all these rehearsals and then it’s opening,” Showalter said. “There are a lot of different acts to a season, and (Monday) starts act one.”

Just like on Broadway, sometimes the understudy gets a chance to perform. Gausman (9-12, 3.61 ERA in 2016) was selected to start the opener because staff ace Chris Tillman has a sore shoulder and will start the season on the disabled list.

“I’m going to try to set the tone and just kind of feed off the environment,” Gausman said. “It’s obviously going to be rocking.”

A full house is expected when the Orioles begin their 25th season at Camden Yards. Though there will be 161 games to follow, this one is a bit more special than most.

“It always seems like a playoff atmosphere on the first day,” Hardy said.

In mapping out his perfect scenario, Showalter has this game ending differently than that wild-card matchup.

“I just want the weather to be good, the beer to be cold, the baseball to be good, everybody has a great time, the Orioles win and they want to come back,” he said. “In that order.”

___

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

David Ginsburg, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Canada wins gold in bobsleigh

Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz tied for first in two-man event at 2018 Winter Olympics

Okanagan residents can win ride in army vehicle

A social media campaign offers the chance to win a ride in the Dragoons armoured vehicle

Reel Reviews: War from both sides of the desk

We say, “Forgive these films their faults and they will be entertaining enough.”

Residents should keep air intakes clear of snow

Silver Star Fire Department is encouraging residens to keep their air intakes clear after snowfall

Provincial program offers assistance to agricultural producers

AgriStability Enhancement Program benefits agricultural producers who saw an income decline in 2017

PHOTOS: Icing the competition

Skate Canada 2018 Okanagan Regional Championships skated through Vernon this weekend

Street Sounds: Rolling with the Stones

The Stones’ On Air is a blast from the past in every sense

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: Protesters rally for affordable housing ahead of B.C. budget

Residents call on province to keep locals housed

Update: Highway 97C reopened following multi-vehicle incident

Highway 97C is closed to eastbound traffic near Pennask Summit following an incident Sunday afternon

Brakemen pulling out all the stops for 2018

Kettle Valley Brakemen planning some surprises

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

DRAWL searches for Okanagan Valley accent

UBC study wants to hear from Okanagan residents

Most Read