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AL Wild Card Game: Orioles vs. Jays, a battle of AL East foes

The playoffs kick off as the Orioles take on the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It's playoff time!

In spite of the A's being out of the mix, the playoffs should yet again be must watch. Last year's version featured one of the more exciting innings of all time, and the team responsible for all that drama will be fighting to make the divisional round tonight.

Those Jays will start Marcus Stroman on the mound. Stroman is a bit like Sonny Gray: he's short (for a pitcher), fairly lovable, has electric stuff, and had a disappointing 2016 season. The Jays will lean on him anyway, though Francisco Liriano and Marco Estrada are both available if needed and manager John Gibbons will sure to have a quick hook in this a must win affair.

The Orioles will counter with Chris Tillman. Tillman is rather average overall, but the Orioles pitching depth is more like the A's than it is like the Cubs, meaning options are slim. Should Tillman falter early, the Orioles may turn to the likes of Dylan Bundy, a young and exciting righty, dominant reliever Brad Brach, or dominant-er reliever Zach Britton, who may well win the Cy Young thanks to his sparkling .55 ERA.

On the offensive sides, both teams are loaded with big names, some of whom had less than stellar years. Adam Jones is aging, Chris Davis didn't quite live up to his ritzy contract, and Matt Wieters had a subpar year. The Orioles were still fantastic offensively, carried by a super Machado campaign, an unexpectedly great season from Hyun Soo Kim, and a lineup without an obvious weak link.

For the Jays, Jose Bautista fell off a bit this year, but the rest of the offense was pretty darn good. This game is likely to be a high scoring affair, and the likes of Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Michael Saunders will do the heavy lifting for the Jays.

Friends, foes, and former A's

The Orioles feature exactly 0 former A's, which is a weird thing to type. They do feature Manny Machado, thrower of bats, hater of fun, and probable listener of Creed. Just a reminder: we don't like Manny Machado.

The Jays feature a single (real) former Athletic. That would be Josh Donaldson, last year's MVP who followed up with another great campaign this season. He'll bat second for the Jays tonight and should they hope to advance far in the postseason, they'll need big numbers from the chippy third baseman.

Miss you Josh.

First pitch is at 5:00 PM PST! Let's go A's!

Today's Lineups

Adam Jones - CF Devon Travis - 2B
Hyun Soo Kim - LF Josh Donaldson - 3B
Manny Machado - 3B Edwin Encarnacion - 1B
Mark Trumbo - DH Jose Bautista - RF
Matt Wieters - C Russell Martin - C
Chris Davis - 1B Troy Tulowitzki - SS
Jonathan Schoop - 2B Michael Saunders - DH
Michael Bourn - RF Kevin Pillar - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Ezequiel Carrera - LF
Chris Tillman - RHP Marcus Stroman - RHP