Potential Fireworks All Around in Rangers-Blue Jays Series Opener May 26

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 25, 2017 7:06 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 25, 2017 7:06 PM UTC

The Rangers and Blue Jays have met in the ALDS the past two seasons, and they simply don’t like each other thanks largely to Jose Bautista. This capper looks for major fireworks in more ways than one Friday in Toronto.

MLB Season Record: 15-11

Texas Rangers At Toronto Blue Jays (-124, 9)

The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays meet for the first time this season Friday (7:07 p.m. ET) north of the border to open a three-game weekend series.

These two clubs know each other better than most teams that don’t reside in the same division. In the 2015 AL Division Series, the Blue Jays lost the first two games at home but then won the final three to eliminate Texas. No doubt you remember the clincher as Toronto slugger Jose Bautista hit an epic go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Bautista had an even more epic bat flip following the homer – it has been put on everything from cupcakes to sweaters to stamps in Canada.

The Rangers were not happy with that showboating. So in what was expected to be the teams’ final meeting last season, on May 15 in Arlington, Bautista was hit by Rangers fire-balling reliever Matt Bush in the eighth inning. Soon after, Bautista went sliding into second base to try and break up a double play. Next thing you know, Bautista and Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor are in each other’s face – and Odor lands a haymaker to Bautista’s jaw, starting bench clearing-brawl. Frankly, Bautista might be the most disliked player in baseball. Last week in Atlanta, he had another big bat flip after a homer and with his team losing in a big way. The Braves didn’t like that and hit Bautista.

We shall see if this Rangers-Blue Jays feud is over. They did meet again in last year’s ALDS and Toronto swept. There were no issues then, but players don’t get justice in the postseason because they don’t want to get suspended or cost their team a game. So, theoretically, this could be a Toronto pitcher’s first chance to plunk Odor.

The Jays looked dead in the water this season at 2-11 in MLB betting but are now 21-26 (-712 units) and enter on a three-game winning streak. Bautista was one of the worst regulars in the majors in April but is batting .313 with seven homers and 16 RBIs this month.

It’s believed that Blue Jays All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, the former AL MVP, and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will both be activated from the DL on Friday. Donaldson has been out since April 13 with a calf injury and Tulo since April 21 with a hamstring issue.  

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Friday’s Probable Pitchers

Texas starts right-hander A.J. Griffin (4-1, 5.02). He had been the team’s second-best pitcher behind Yu Darvish over Griffin’s first five starts, but he has fallen off. Griffin gave up four runs on May 14 vs. Oakland, but the Rangers still improved to 6-0 when he took the mound. However, last Saturday in Detroit, Griffin was blasted for nine runs, including a career-high four homers (three straight in first), in 3.1 innings as the Rangers’ 10-game winning streak ended. It was the first time since May 10, 2012, that a Texas pitcher allowed back-to-back-to-back dingers. That outing spiked Griffin’s ERA from 3.15 to its current number.  

Griffin is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays. Bautista is looking for his first hit off Griffin in eight at-bats. Kendrys Morales is 4-for-10 against Griffin with a homer. Kevin Pillar is 2-for-2 with a double. Donaldson and Tulowitzki are a combined 0-for-6 against him.

The only reason that righty Mike Bolsinger (0-2, 6.32) is still in the Toronto rotation is because starters Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano are all on the DL. Bolsinger has made three starts and has given up 12 runs and 17 hits in just 15.2 innings with 11 walks. That’s good for a WHIP of 1.79 and opponents are hitting .279 against him. The Jays have lost all three of his outings by at least two runs. This will be Bolsinger’s first career start against the Rangers, although Texas catcher Jonathan Lucroy is 3-for-7 off him with a double and homer.

Two shaky pitchers here and a potentially reinforced Toronto lineup. The ‘over’ is 4-0 in Griffin’s past four overall and it’s 6-2 in Toronto’s past eight vs. a right-hander. Thus ‘over’ is the MLB pick.

Free MLB Pick: ‘Over’ 9Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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