Welcome to the biggest week of the Toronto Blue Jays season yet.
The struggling Blue Jays entertain the Boston Red Sox for three games before hosting the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Center for a rare five-game series. The Tampa series features a doubleheader, which means Toronto plays eight games in seven days.
The AL East rivals, along with the Cleveland Guardians, are all in a tight race for three wildcard spots. Boston enters the week 1.5 games ahead of Toronto and Tampa, with Cleveland two Red Sox guards.
The Boston three-man marks Toronto’s second straight home streak against a powerful AL East opponent. The major league-leading New York Yankees won two of three games at Rogers Center before the Blue Jays hit the road last week.
Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Red Sox series.
Monday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT (Sportsnet): Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (5-6, 3.19 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Connor Seabold (0-0, 0.00)
Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE): Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (4-2, 3.08 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Michael Wacha (6-1, 2.34 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT (Sportsnet): Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (9-2, 2.05 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Nick Pivetta (8-5, 3.28 ERA)
LATEST NEWS ON BLUE JAYS
The Blue Jays (40-32) come home after a 2-4 road trip against the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.
As Toronto stays in playoff position, Blue Jays have big pitching problems
Jose Berrios was bad for a second straight start on Sunday against Milwaukee, and Yusei Kikuchi was terrible all June – his next turn on Thursday is in serious doubt.
The problem is that there are no great options on the farm. Thomas Hatch and Casey Lawrence are possibilities and there is also the possibility of using an opener.
Either way, Toronto has decisions to make for Thursday’s series opener against Tampa and one game of a doubleheader Saturday against the Rays.
To make matters worse, the Blue Jays bullpen is outnumbered (Yimi Garcia, Trevor Richards and Julian Merryweather are on the injured list) and operating empty after consecutive short outings from Kikuchi and Berrios this weekend. .
At least there’s good news for the Blue Jays. They have three starters who had good outings against the Red Sox in Gausman, Stripling and Manoah.
LATEST RED SOX NEWS
The Red Sox (42-31) extended their winning streak to seven with a weekend sweep of Cleveland. They have won seven straight series and are 19-4 in June.
The solid play lifted Boston past Toronto for second place in the AL East.
It’s amazing to think the Red Sox were 10-19 on May 8 after losing their fifth straight game. Since then, they have not lost a series.
However, the schedule is now getting tougher with 20 of Boston’s next 23 against the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays.
On Sunday, the Red Sox punished Cleveland pitchers with 15 hits and 11 walks.
Trevor Story drove in a pair of races to give him 500 for his career.
THE MONDAY MYSTERY MAN
Prospect Connor Seabold will make his season debut on the mound Monday for the Red Sox.
Seabold was retired after one run when he left for Worcester’s triple-A on Friday. He’s allowed two runs in his last 21 innings.
The right-hander made a major league start last September for Boston, allowing two runs over three innings.
Two days before Canada Day, the Blue Jays will face their sophomore ace (Manoah) against a Victoria native (Pivetta) in the series finale.
The Red Sox right-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts (all wins), allowing just four runs while striking out 17 and walking six.
However, the Canadian was roughed up in two starts against the Blue Jays in April, failing to go five innings in either outing.
Manoah is tied for the major league lead in wins and has been a joy to watch all season. He pitched seven shutout innings against the Red Sox in a win on April 28.
STAY AT HOME
Red Sox closest Tanner Houck and outfielder Jarred Durran will be on the series shortlist as they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Infielder Yolmer Sanchez will be called up from Worcester and will travel to Toronto.
Houck will kick off a batting practice against Durran at Fenway Park in the Toronto series, AP reported.
The Blue Jays are 5-2 against the Red Sox this year, winning three of four at home and two of three at Fenway Park in a pair of April playoffs.
Of course, those games took place long before the Red Sox took off.
The Rays Series features the first Canada Day game in Toronto since 2019.
After Sunday’s series finale, the Blue Jays cross the continent for a trip to Oakland and Seattle.