The Toronto Blue Jays open a big eight-game home run with a five-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Center.
Oddly enough, it’s Toronto’s second five-game streak against the Rays this season – thanks to a late start to the season while the players and owners were negotiating a new CBA.
The Rays have tied with the Seattle Mariners for the top spot in the Major League Wild Card Race, just half a game over the Blue Jays.
Toronto now has a 5.5 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles in the race for third and final place.
Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Rays series.
Monday, 7:07 p.m. EDT / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHB Jose Berrios (10-5, 5.23 ERA) vs. Tampa Bay RHB Cooper Cresswell (2022 MLB debut)
Tuesday, 1:07PM EDT / 10:07AM PT: Toronto TPA vs Tampa Bay LHP Jeffrey Springs (7-4, 2.54 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: TBA jugs
Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. EDT / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHB Ross Stripling (7-4, 3.03 ERA) vs. Tampa Bay RHB Drew Rasmussen (10-4, 2.57 ERA)
Thursday, 3:07 PM ET / 12:07 PM PT: Toronto RHB Kevin Gusman (12-9, 3.31 PM)
(All games on Sportsnet)
The latest on Blue Jays
The Blue Jays (78-61) are coming off a great 8-2 road trip, which puts them in a much more comfortable position.
Prior to the trip, they were only 2.5 games ahead of Baltimore in last place.
Toronto lost 4-1 in the series finale to the Texas Rangers on Sunday, Bulls Day for the Blue Jays.
Shortstop Bo Bichette was Toronto’s offensive trigger in September, cutting .500/.532/1.092 with six Homer and 18 RBI.
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After winning the opening game in New York, the Rays (78-60) fell twice in a row to the Yankees to lose 5.5 games in the back (Toronto is down six times).
The Yankees, whose grip on the league has waned dramatically after two grueling months, won 10-3 on Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday.
This was the first time since June 2019 that the Yankees scored in double digits against the Rays.
Ray player Luis Patino didn’t make it out of the second half on Sunday.
Tampa is now 31-36 on the road, in stark contrast to the 47-24 mark at Tropicana Field.
Rise’s Short Stop Undertaker recovered Franco (right wrist) from the injured list on Friday. He’s been abroad since July.
While the Blue Jays haven’t announced starters for the double-header Tuesday, it looks like Alec Manoah and Mitch White will take the call.
The struggling white was selected for the Buffalo Triple Championship last week, but he qualifies to return as an extra man for the double header.
Right-hand man Kevin Gausman will be in line for the start of the series’ finale on Thursday.
Rays also has two games to know in the series. They were hoping to use Ryan Yarbrough as a huge pitcher at some point, but he had to go five rounds on Sunday after Patino’s rocky start.
But in much better news for the Rays, ace Shane McClanahan (11-5, 2.20 ERA) is expected to return from IL to begin the final series on Thursday. He was dealing with a left shoulder impingement.
McClanahan gave up one, three strokes and hit 10 in seven in a 6-2 win over the Blue Jays on July 2 in Toronto.
The Rays also summons several pitchers from Triple-A for the series with Criswell set to begin opening.
Blue Jays 4-6 against Rays this season.
Tampa won three of five in the Canada Day Weekend Series at Rogers Center.
That streak ended with three consecutive losses for the Blue Jays, including a double-headed sweep of Tampa where Gusman was injured in the opening game when he was injured by a participant.
The Blue Jays then went to the road and lost six of seven, which resulted in manager Charlie Montoyo being fired.
The teams split a mini-series for August in Tampa as Gusman closed out Rise by one stroke in eight rounds while notching 10 in a 3-1 win in the opener. The Rays beat Toronto 3-2 the next day with Yusei Kikuchi’s start.
The Blue Jays and Rays conclude their season series with four games in Tampa, September 22-25.
Just like last time, Brooks Rallye, the left-hander of Rice, will not play in Toronto because he is not immune to COVID-19.
His co-star Ryan Thompson missed the final series in Toronto for the same reason, but he’s now on the hit list.
The Yankees, Mariners and Orioles are all off Monday.
On Tuesday, the Yankees start a series in Boston against the Red Sox (69-72), the Mariners host the San Diego Padres (77-64) and the Orioles make a short trip to Washington to face the Lowland Nationals (49-92).
The Blue Jays face the Orioles in three weekend games in Toronto.