The Minnesota Twins are out of the race for a place in the postseason, but they can be a factor in determining the American League wild-card teams starting Friday night when they visit the Toronto Blue Jays.
The opener of the three-game series will be the first of seven games between the teams in the next 10 days.
The Blue Jays (82-64) are in the thick of the race for an American League wild-card spot after winning 16 of their past 19 games, including their 6-3 victory Wednesday over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series.
“We think we’re better than the teams we play, so we go out there with that confidence,” said Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette, who hit his 25th home run and matched his career best with five RBIs on Wednesday. “Now we’re showing everybody who we are.”
The Twins (64-83) are 6-9 in September after losing the rubber match of a three-game series to the visiting Cleveland Indians 12-3 on Wednesday.
After winning the AL Central the past two seasons, the Twins were eliminated from playoff contention this week.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of different types of seasons, where expectations are met, where expectations are surpassed,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And sometimes they’re not met, and you have some years where you walk away wanting a lot more. And you wish you saw a lot more. And frankly, I can look in a mirror and say I wish I did some things differently, too. We had some great years previously. That has nothing to do with what we did this year. We certainly needed to do a lot more.”
“We just started flat and never really recovered,” relief pitcher Tyler Duffey said. “It does (stink) to be truly eliminated, but at the same time, we’re playing for something. We’re playing for us. We’re playing for each other. The fans back home. You name it. We’re out there trying to win ball games.”
Minnesota will start right-hander Michael Pineda (6-8, 3.87 ERA) on Friday.
He will be facing the Blue Jays for the first time since April 18, 2019, at Target Field and is 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 career starts against them.
Pineda will be opposed by Toronto left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (13-8, 4.11). Ryu has faced Minnesota once in his career, taking a no-decision on July 24, 2017, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing two earned runs on five hits in five innings.
Toronto acquired right-hander Jose Berrios from Minnesota at the trade deadline. He came out of his start on Tuesday after seven innings with tightness in his side, but Berrios said Wednesday that he would be able to make his next start.
With Bichette’s performance on Wednesday, the Blue Jays have four players with 25 or more home runs and 90 or more RBIs in a season for the first time in franchise history (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Teoscar Hernandez, Bichette), and are the first team to do so since 2009 (Philadelphia Phillies and Twins).
–Field Level Media