The 2016 MLB playoffs get underway later Tuesday with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles kicking off the first of two Wild Card games.

The AL East compatriots each clinched their spots without trouble, winning their regular-season finales Sunday to set up the head-to-head. Their series over the 162-game slog could not have been any closer. Toronto earned a 10-9 advantage and the right to host Tuesday night’s game.

“When you get to the point where there’s three or four or five, six teams in the race, it’s like every game is crucial,” Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said, per Scott Mitchell of the Toronto Sun. “Everybody’s been in that playoff mindset for a while now, so we’ve just gotta keep moving forward.

“It felt like almost the last six or seven days we’ve been playing wild-card games all the way through, so, I think, that we’re ready for the next step. The next step’s a big game and we’re bringing it back to The 6 in front of our home fans. Hopefully, it’s going to be magical for us.”

The Jays appear to have the edge in most categories. They rank ninth in runs scored and sixth in on-base percentage, while Baltimore has perhaps the shakiest rotation of any playoff team. The Orioles have subsisted most of the season on their bullpen holding close games. Only the Rangers have a worse run differential among playoff teams.

Manager Buck Showalter noted he was proud of his team for making the playoffs despite being predicted by some to be the AL East’s worst team.

“Life is too short to have those emotions. Thank goodness people make predictions and think things like that,” Showalter said, per Jon Meoli and Carrie Wells of the Baltimore Sun. “We’ve used them very well. It’s kind of who we are, and the way we have to do it. There’s a real identity not only with our team, but with the city and everything.

“There’s just so much you can do with emotion. You have to have some skills and sometimes that gets overlooked with our guys. These are some talented guys, and they’re talented in their ability to be consistent.”

In a one-game format, though, all the Orioles need to do is crack an early lead and get it to the sixth inning. If they can do that, this unlikely bunch could continue its run despite being at a talent disadvantage and playing on the road.

The New York Mets and San Francisco Giants appear much closer to providing a nail-biting matchup. Both have built their playoff rosters around pitching. The Mets rank third in team ERA, the Giants are fourth. The Mets have 87 quality starts, the Giants 85. San Francisco is a better offensive team and has a 30-run advantage in differential, though, and came away with four straight wins to clinch a wild card spot.

“This is when our team plays best, when we have a sense of urgency, with our backs against the wall,’’ left fielder Angel Pagan said, per Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. “We’re ready. We have good momentum going into the playoffs. I’ve got a good feeling, man.’’

“As a group, going through the ups and downs, it really is a trial,” reliever Sergio Romo said. “That grittiness, that willingness to fight, we just let it all hang. We wanted this bad. Now we get a chance to dance, and we like our chances.’’

The Mets have scraped together a playoff team despite losing third baseman David Wright and slapping together an everyday lineup that typically borders on abysmal. Their best midseason move on the field was a reunion with former star Jose Reyes, which drew critics following his MLB suspension. 

“With the talent we have, one thing, we never give up,” Reyes said, per Matt Ehalt of USA Today. “All the credit has to go to Terry to keep this team together. After all the injuries, what happened to us, we are still in this situation. This is unbelievable. We never doubted with the talent we had in this locker room.”

Odds are, this will come down to who can get one or two runs across the board first. The Mets will rely on ace Noah Syndergaard, who was 1-1 against the Giants during the regular season. He shut them out over eight innings in San Francisco during an August trip. Giants starter Madison Bumgarner won both of his starts against the Mets during the regular season.

Read more MLB news on