Blue Jays ace Ray, top Rays prospect Baz headline series opener

Ben Ennis and Ben Nicholson-Smith discuss Vladdy's AL MVP chances vs. Ohtani, Robbie Ray's AL Cy Young chances, plus look ahead to the Blue Jays series against the Rays at Tropicana Field as the hunt for a postseason spot continues.

Toronto Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray can take another big step toward a Cy Young Award win when he takes the mound against the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays in the series opener on Monday.

With fellow top contender Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees having allowed seven runs in a loss Sunday against Cleveland, the door is open for Ray (12-5, 2.64 ERA) to make a statement in Florida.

The left-hander has allowed just 12 runs in nine starts in August and September and hasn't taken a loss since July 21.

It's an intriguing pitching matchup with top Rays prospect Shane Baz making his major-league debut for Tampa.

Baz, who pitched for the United States in the Olympics, was 3-0 with a 1.76 in 10 starts following his promotion to triple-A Durham.

The right-hander was acquired by Tampa as the player to be named later in a 2018 trade that saw the Rays ship righty Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for righty Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadow and, eventually, Baz.

The Blue Jays are second in the AL wild-card race, one game back of the Boston Red Sox and 1.5 games up on the Yankees.

The Red Sox are off Monday, while the Yankees are hoe to the Texas Rangers.

Catch the Blue Jays-Rays series opener on Sportsnet/SN Now beginning at 7:10 p.m. ET/4:10 p.m. PT.

-- With files from The Associated Press

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