Another series, another key moment in the wild-card race for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The slumping Blue Jays (61-52) host three games against the Baltimore Orioles (59-55) at Rogers Centre, one week after dropping a pair of games in Baltimore.
The Blue Jays still hold the top wild-card spot in the American League, but are just 2.5 games ahead of the surprising Orioles, who are fourth in the race. The top three get playoff spots.
With Yusei Kikuchi starting the series opener for Toronto, it’s a nervous time for Blue Jays fans.
Here’s a look at the series.
Monday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-6, 5.13 ERA) vs. Baltimore RHP Kyle Bradish (1-4, 6.42 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (12-5, 2.56 ERA) vs. Baltimore RHP Dean Kremer (4-4, 3.69 ERA)
Wednesday, 3:07 p.m. ET / 12:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (5-3, 3.16 ERA) vs. Baltimore RHP Austin Voth (3-1, 5.34 ERA)
(All games on Sportsnet)
Latest on the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have not won any of their past four series after dropping two of three over the weekend against the visiting Cleveland Guardians.
Losers of six of their past eight, Toronto has let its margin at the top of the wild-card standings slip.
Shaky defence didn’t help Kevin Gausman on Sunday as the starter gave up five runs in 4.2 innings in a 7-2 loss.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 22-game hit streak also came to an end as he went 0-for-4.
The Blue Jays scored all of three runs in the series against the AL Central-leading Guardians.
Latest on the Orioles
The Orioles avoided being on the wrong end of history when Jorge Mateo doubled on the first pitch of the ninth inning on Sunday to break up Tampa Bay Rays starter Drew Rasmussen’s perfect game.
However, the contest still went into the books as a 4-1 loss for the Orioles, giving the Rays a 2-1 win in an important series – Tampa is third in the wild-card race.
Baltimore scored just three runs in the final two games in Tampa after collecting a season-high 19 hits and scoring 10 runs while opening the series with a victory.
Still, the Orioles are 8-4 in August and hanging in the playoff race after dealing first baseman Trey Mancini and closer Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline.
The Blue Jays are expected to get leadoff hitter and outfielder George Springer back for the opener after a stint on the injured list with a lingering elbow issue.
Stripling also is slated to return Wednesday after being sidelined with a glute/hip strain.
Meanwhile, Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle (15 home runs, 55 RBI) is listed as day-to-day with left wrist/hand soreness after he was hit by a pitch on Saturday.
The Orioles lead it 4-2 with 13 games still left after the series finale last week in Baltimore was rained out and pushed back to September as part of a doubleheader.
One of the tougher losses during this cold spell for Toronto came last Tuesday when Rougned Odor hit a go-ahead homer off Yimi Garcia in the eighth inning of a 6-5 win – a game which resumed after a one hour and 18 minute rain delay.
Odor, of course, is a man Toronto fans love to boo after he sucker punched Jose Bautista years ago.
The Blue Jays travel to the Bronx for four games against the AL East-leading New York Yankees before heading to Boston for three games against the Red Sox.