Welcome to Blue Jays Wild Card Watch, a daily snapshot of where Toronto stands in relation to its rivals in the playoff race. Each morning we'll briefly recap the previous night's action and tee up what comes next.
Well that's not how you want to start a crucial four-game series against an inferior opponent.
The Toronto Blue Jays dropped the opener of their set with the Minnesota Twins on Thursday while also losing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (hand) and Thomas Hatch (hamstring) to injury. The defeat leaves them a full game back of the final playoff spot in the American League.
The good news is the Blue Jays will roll out their three best pitchers for the remainder of the series, starting with Jose Berrios on Friday night. It should be an emotional return to Minnesota for Berrios, who spent his entire career with the Twins organization prior to joining the Blue Jays at the trade deadline.
Berrios (3.45 ERA) will be opposed by big Twins right-hander Bailey Ober (4.34 ERA), who the Blue Jays roughed up for four runs over four innings in his last start.
Here's a look at what's happening with the other teams in contention for wild-card spots, including a massive showdown between two of Toronto's biggest rivals.
Boston Red Sox
Last night's result: Off day.
Tonight's matchup: The Red Sox are riding a seven-game winning streak into the most important series of their season as the New York Yankees arrive at Fenway Park. Nathan Eovaldi (3.58 ERA) takes the mound for Boston against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (3.03 ERA).
Toronto will obviously be keeping a close eye on the results of this entire series and needs to take care of business in Minnesota to capitalize on the fact that one of Boston or New York will lose at least two games this weekend.
New York Yankees
See Red Sox section.
Last night's result: The Mariners vaulted themselves right back into contender status by finishing off a stunning four-game sweep of the Athletics. Don't look now but this feisty Seattle squad is just one game behind the Blue Jays and two back of a playoff spot.
Tonight's matchup: The Mariners will put their five-game winning streak on the line in a road clash with the Los Angeles Angels. Rookie Logan Gilbert (4.74 ERA) draws the starting assignment opposite Angels southpaw Jose Suarez (3.67 ERA).
Last night's result: Chris Bassitt made a miraculous return after being hit in the face by a line drive five weeks ago, but the A's bullpen couldn't follow his three scoreless innings. Oakland's leaky relief corps surrendered six runs after Bassitt left the game en route to the crushing 6-5 loss to Seattle.
Tonight's matchup: The A's are in desperate need of a win to keep their fading playoff hopes alive. The task won't be easy against the Houston Astros, who are fighting for the American League's top seed. Oakland sends Frankie Montas (3.57 ERA) to the bump while Houston counters with Zack Greinke (4.11 ERA).
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