BALTIMORE (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 32nd homer and the Toronto Blue Jays edged closer to the top seed for an American League wild card series with a 5-1 rain-shortened victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
Play was halted by rain with Toronto batting with two outs in the eighth and called after a wait of 55 minutes.
Toronto would host a best-of-three playoff series starting Friday if it wins one more game or Seattle loses at least one of its final four games.
“There was one singular focus today when the game did start and that was to win,” Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said. “You really can’t say enough how they responded.”
Whit Merrifield went 3 for 3 with an RBI for the Blue Jays, who have won for straight.
Before a crowd of just 10,642, José Berríos (12-7) allowed one run and three hits with five strikeouts and three walks over six innings.
“I thought we were going to have a delay but we started on time,” Berríos said. “I just went there to compete and get that win for the team and we did it. The mound was wet and it was raining all night.”
Tim Mayza earned his second save.
Baltimore’s Jorge Mateo stole his American League-leading 35th base, one ahead of teammate Cedric Mullins.
Baltimore already had secured a winning season for the first time since 2016.
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Toronto took a 2-0 lead off Dean Kremer in the second on a single by Merrifield that scored Teoscar Hernández and Matt Chapman.
Guerrero boosted the lead to 3-0 with a 422-drive over the left-field wall in the third. He became the fourth player in Blue Jays franchise history to hit at least 32 home runs at age 24 or younger.
The Orioles got the board in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Santander that Hernandez was able to snag with a running, leaping catch at the right-field fence.
A wild pitch by Kremer allowed Merrifield to score in the fifth as the Blue Jays increased the lead to 4-1.
“I can do different things to help and impact the game,” Merrifield said. “It’s nice that they’re coming at big times for us.”
Kremer (8-7) allowed four runs and six hits with four strikeouts and one walk over six innings. He ends the season with a 3.23 ERA over 21 starts.
Chapman added an RBI single in the eighth.
“Not easy to play in,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Kind of a tough night all around. Wet, cold. Dean, it affected him a little bit. His stuff wasn’t the same as it is normally.”
Orioles catcher Adley Rustchman is the winner of the 2022 Most Valuable Oriole Award. Rutschman is the third rookie to win the award since its inception in 1954, joining right-handed pitchers Gregg Olson in 1989 and Rodrigo López in 2002.
Blue Jays: OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring strain) could be available when the postseason begins on Friday.
Orioles: RHP Félix Bautista, who leads the team with 15 saves, has been shut down for the season with left knee soreness.
Blue Jays: RHP Mitch White (1-6, 5.21) has pitched against the Orioles once in his career, allowing five runs on three hits, two strikeouts and three walks over 2 1/3 innings last month.
Orioles: RHP Mike Baumann (1-3, 4.34 ERA) is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in three appearances, including one start, against Toronto.