The Toronto Blue Jays’ hopes of making the playoffs are remote at best, but they are getting plenty of practice playing in pressure-packed games. With 10 of their 14 games in September having been decided by one run, the Blue Jays continue their four-game series Saturday at the Minnesota Twins, who are holding down the second wild card.
Toronto bounced back from a 10th-inning loss in the series opener by rallying for a 4-3 victory Friday night. Josh Donaldson homered as part of a three-hit night, capping it by driving in the tiebreaking run for the American League’s lowest-scoring team. Twins center field Byron Buxton, who had a walk-off homer Thursday, continued to torment the Blue Jays with a pair of hits Friday and is 11-for-21 with four homers and eight RBIs in the last five meetings. Minnesota is four games behind wild-card leader New York and two games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild card.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (8-8, 4.96 ERA) vs. Twins LH Adalberto Mejía (4-5, 4.47)
Estrada lasted only five innings but extended his unbeaten streak to five starts against Baltimore on Monday, permitting two runs on four hits while striking out seven. He has surrendered three runs or fewer in eight of his last 10 outings, including six innings of three-run ball in a win over Minnesota on Aug. 26. Joe Mauer is 6-for-18 against Estrada, who has established a career best with 166 strikeouts.
Mejia, sidelined for more than a month with a biceps strain, will come off the disabled list to make his first start since Aug. 8 after tossing five scoreless innings in his last rehab outing. Since winning three consecutive starts from June 23 to July 3, he is 0-2 over his last six turns and failed to pitch beyond 5 1/3 innings in his last five. His home ERA (5.40) is more than double the mark on the road (2.54).
1. Blue Jays CF Kevin Pillar is 11-for-26 over the past seven games.
2. Buxton has 21 straight stolen bases, one shy of tying Matt Lawton and Chuck Knoblauch for the team’s all-time mark.
3. Blue Jays OF Steve Pearce (back) has been sidelined for seven straight games.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 5, Twins 4