The Toronto Blue Jays have clinched a playoff spot, but still have much to play for as they open their final home series of the regular season against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
The out-of-contention Red Sox officially punched the Blue Jays’ post-season ticket by beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 on Thursday, an off-day for Toronto.
Now, the Blue Jays are trying to stay ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners for first in the wild-card race, which would allow Toronto to play its best-of-three first-round series at home starting Oct. 7.
Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Red Sox series.
Friday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (15-7, 2.31 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Nick Pivetta (10-11, 4.48 ERA)
Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET / 12:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (9-4, 3.16 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Brayan Bello (2-7, 4.39 ERA)
Sunday, 1:37 p.m. ET / 10:37 a.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.30) vs. Boston TBD
All games on Sportsnet.
Latest on the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays (87-69) lost two of three to the visiting New York Yankees earlier this week.
After a dramatic 3-2, 10-inning win in the opener on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s walk-off single and Gausman’s strong start, the Blue Jays didn’t get the same kind of starts from Jose Berrios and Mitch White and dropped the next two.
Aaron Judge’s AL record-tying 61st home run of the season highlighted a series-ending 8-3 win for the Yankees on Wednesday.
The Yankees also clinched the AL East crown with a 5-2 win on Tuesday.
Latest on the Red Sox
The out-of-contention Red Sox (74-81) did the Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners a favour by taking three of four from the Orioles.
J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie on Thursday, propelling the Red Sox to a 5-3 win.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi pitched 4 2/3 innings, making his first appearance since going on the injured list on Aug. 23 with a sore right shoulder. He allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits while striking out three.
The Red Sox won 10 of 19 against the Orioles this year, taking the season series for the fifth year in a row.
With six games left, the Blue Jays are 1.5 games in front of Seattle and two games ahead of Tampa Bay for top spot in the wild-card race.
The top finisher hosts the No. 2 team in the first round, while the No. 3 team goes to Cleveland to face the Guardians.
Toronto must finish ahead of Tampa and Seattle to get first as it does not own the tiebreaker.
The Rays are in Houston to face the AL-leading Astros this weekend, while the Mariners host the last-place Oakland A’s.
The Blue Jays are a dominant 13-3 against the Red Sox this year.
Toronto is a perfect 6-0 against the Red Sox since the All-Star break with all the wins coming at Fenway Park.
The highlight was a franchise record for runs in a night when the Blue Jays pounded the Red Sox 28-5 on July 22.
Manoah squares off against Victoria’s Pivetta in the opener – the same pitching matchup that took place on June 29 at Rogers Centre.
Both starters were good in no-decisions that night (Manoah gave up three runs, two earned, in seven innings and Pivetta allowed two runs in six innings) before the Red Sox won 6-5 in an exciting 10-inning game. The Red Sox scored three in the 10th before the Blue Jays fell just short with two.
The Blue Jays wrap up their season with three games in Baltimore against the Orioles, starting Monday.
With files from AP