After the games of Aug. 27, the Toronto Blue Jays trailed the New York Yankees by 9 1/2 games in the American League wild-card race.
Nearly two weeks later, the Blue Jays exchanged high-fives and handshakes on the field at Yankee Stadium, and they may be on the verge of passing the Yankees in the standings.
Coming off an impressive four-game sweep of the Yankees, the Blue Jays resume their playoff push Friday night when they visit the Baltimore Orioles for the opener of a four-game set.
Toronto (77-62) is on an eight-game winning streak and is 11-1 since losing on Aug. 27, the final day of New York’s 13-game winning streak.
The Blue Jays never trailed in the just-concluded series and outscored the Yankees 25-8 after scoring 29 runs last weekend in a three-game sweep of the visiting Oakland Athletics. They head to Baltimore a half-game behind New York for the second AL wild-card spot.
“It’s been impressive what our team has done and everything they’ve gone through,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I’m so proud of my team.”
Toronto capped the series with a 6-4 victory on Thursday when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 42nd homer and Bo Bichette collected three hits, including a leadoff homer in the first inning and a tiebreaking single in the seventh.
Guerrero Jr. hit three homers in the series — marking the eighth time he hit three in a series this year, according to STATS. He has hit safely in 16 of his past 17 games and is batting .386 (27-for-70) with six homers and 11 RBIs in that span.
“We played really good this series,”Bichette said. “I’m happy with the outcomes.”
Bichette snapped an 0-for-13 skid and batted leadoff because George Springer missed his third straight game with a left knee contusion. Springer was injured Monday when he fouled a ball off his knee but could return Friday.
The Orioles (45-94) aided Toronto last weekend when they took two of three at Yankee Stadium, posting a pair of one-run wins. They followed it up by splitting a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
Baltimore is 7-8 since losing 19 straight last month. However, the Orioles mustered only three hits Thursday in a 6-0 loss to the Royals, with all of their hits coming in the second inning.
“We just had a tough time putting a rally together,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said.
The best news for the Orioles on Thursday was Trey Mancini returning after missing the previous three games with an oblique injury.
Toronto’s Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.60 ERA), whose 212 strikeouts rank third in the majors, seeks his fourth straight winning decision.
Ray’s last loss was July 21 against the Boston Red Sox. Since then, he is 3-0 with a 1.51 ERA in eight starts, accumulating 70 strikeouts, including 45 in his past four outings.
The left-hander is 2-2 with a 4.71 ERA in four career starts against Baltimore, including a 1-1 mark and a 3.18 ERA in two starts this year. On Aug. 30, he allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 10 in seven innings of a 7-3 win over the Orioles.
Baltimore’s Chris Ellis (1-0, 2.16 ERA), who allowed one hit in five innings Saturday against the Yankees, is set to make his fourth start since joining the Orioles. Ellis was originally credited with five hitless innings, but a scoring change gave a double to Aaron Judge and reversed an error on left fielder Ryan McKenna.
Ellis opposed Ray on Aug. 30 and allowed one run on two hits in 4 2/3 innings while throwing 69 pitches.
–Field Level Media