Welcome to Blue Jays Scoreboard Watching, a regular look at how Toronto is faring in relation to its playoff rivals. Here we'll provide an update on the standings, recap what each team did the night before and look ahead to their next matchup.
The Toronto Blue Jays kicked off a crucial four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a whimper on Thursday as Jose Berrios got crushed for six runs over two innings in a 10-5 defeat. With his latest clunker, Berrios now owns the worst road ERA in the majors at 6.75.
Tampa Bay moved within one game of Toronto for the top wild-card spot in the American League on a night where the out-of-town scoreboard wasn't kind to Canada's lone MLB franchise. Here's an updated look at the standings.
Toronto's loss wasn't the only notable news that came out of the day, as the Blue Jays placed infielder Santiago Espinal on the injured list with an oblique strain and recalled the versatile Otto Lopez from triple-A. Espinal's production has dropped off in the second half after he earned an All-Star nod but the Blue Jays will still miss his presence on both sides of the ball. Cavan Biggio and Whit Merrifield figure to see an uptick in playing time in his absence.
Blue Jays manager John Schneider also made some waves in his pre-game media availability when he said Alek Manoah would start the final game of the regular season if home-field advantage was on the line, even though it would prevent him from starting in a possible wild-card series. Perhaps Schneider will rethink that strategy after seeing Berrios struggle mightily once again.
Here's a quick look at what the other teams in the AL playoff race have been up to.
New York Yankees
Last night's result: Aaron Judge came just shy of hitting his 61st home run of the season but the Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox in walk-off fashion thanks to Josh Donaldson's RBI single in the 10th inning. New York officially clinched a playoff spot with the victory and opened up a 7.5-game lead in the AL East. It's safe to say they have the division wrapped up.
What's next: Judge takes another shot at history as the Yankees continue their rivalry with the Red Sox. New York sends ace Gerrit Cole (12-7, 3.41 ERA) to the bump opposite 42-year-old southpaw Rich Hill (7-7, 4.70 ERA).
Tampa Bay Rays
Last night's result: The Rays clobbered Berrios to chase him after just two innings then tallied three more runs off reliever Trevor Richards to cruise to a 10-5 win. Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena and David Peralta accounted for most of the damage as the bats broke out in a big way after scoring just two total runs in a sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros earlier this week.
What's next: The Rays aim to draw even with the Blue Jays atop the wild-card standings. Jeffrey Springs (9-4, 2.45 ERA) gets the ball for Tampa Bay against Mitch White (1-6, 5.05 ERA).
Last night's result: The Mariners salvaged the finale of a three-game set with the Oakland Athletics but it came at a high cost as rookie phenom Julio Rodríguez left in the first inning due to back tightness. Rodríguez missed three games earlier this month with the same issue, so the Mariners will be crossing their fingers his absence won't be a lengthy one.
Adam Frazier led the way offensively with three RBIs in the 9-5 win while Jarred Kelenic went 2-for-3 with a home run in his first game since being recalled from triple-A.
What's next: Seattle continues its ridiculously easy schedule when it begins a three-game road series with the lowly Kansas City Royals on Friday. Veteran left-hander Marco Gonzales (10-14, 4.01 ERA) takes the mound for the Mariners, while the Royals have yet to name their starter.
Last night's result: Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish took a perfect game into the sixth inning as Baltimore got the better of Justin Verlander and the Astros in a 2-0 victory. Rougned Odor drove in the game's only runs with a single in the second inning. Baltimore refuses to fully go away in the wild-card race, sitting four games back of the final spot.
What's next: The Orioles look to scrap closer to a playoff spot as they resume their series with the Astros. Baltimore will start Dean Kremer (7-5, 3.33 ERA) against Houston's Jose Urquidy (13-7, 3.96 ERA).
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