The Toronto Blue Jays will try to make up ground in the American League wild-card race against the same team they faced last weekend.
Toronto lost two of three games to the Detroit Tigers in that home series, with both defeats coming in extra innings. They’ll square off for three more games when the series shifts to Detroit, beginning on Friday.
The Blue Jays split a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox this week, including a 10-7 loss on Thursday.
“I don’t know what our playoff probability is or anything like that,” shortstop Bo Bichette said. “For me, it’s we come here, prepare as hard as we can, play as hard as we can and that’s all we can control. It doesn’t really matter what anybody else is doing.”
Left-hander Steven Matz, who will start the series opener, gave up Miguel Cabrera’s 500th career homer on Sunday. That was the only run Matz allowed in six innings. He allowed just five hits and didn’t issue a walk.
Matz (10-7, 3.94 ERA) wound up with a no-decision but knows if he keeps pitching like that, he’ll rack up more victories.
“The goal every time I’m out there is just to put up zeroes,” Matz said. “The last time I pitched, in Seattle, I think they scored seven runs for me, so it’s not too much in the back of my mind. Our lineup has been amazing all year. For me, I just have to keep putting up zeroes.”
Matz has been sharp in four August starts, posting a 1.25 ERA. He hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in six of his last seven outings.
He’s been better on the road than at home, going 7-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 12 starts away from Toronto.
He’ll be opposed by rookie right-hander Matt Manning, who has not pitched since last Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels. Manning (3-5, 5.91 ERA) held the Angels to two runs in 4 2/3 innings that afternoon but struggled with his control, issuing a season-high four walks. He won his previous start against Baltimore on Aug. 12, giving up three runs in six innings.
The Tigers are expected to add some major reinforcements this weekend. Catcher Eric Haase, who has been on the 10-day injured list due to an abdominal strain, has completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo and could be activated on Friday.
Haase doubled and scored a run as the designated hitter for the Mud Hens on Wednesday. He homered and caught nine innings for Toledo on Tuesday.
Haase is tied for the club lead with 19 home runs despite appearing in only 70 games.
“He’s in a good place,” manager AJ Hinch said. “Him catching the full nine innings tells me everything I need to know about his comfort level and ability to bounce back.”
Starting pitchers Matthew Boyd and Jose Urena are also expected to come off the IL and pitch this weekend.
The Tigers split a couple of one-run decisions in St. Louis after their trip to Toronto. They had Thursday off.
“Our goal when we show up is to win, that’s all I’ve ever really known at this level. And I think the players have enjoyed the success that’s come with that,” Hinch said. “But we’re still below .500 (61-67). We’re not where we need to be.”
–Field Level Media