The Cleveland Guardians are on the move after their victory over the Detroit Tigers meant they moved into first place in the American League Central Division for the first time since they led outright in late June.
With the Minnesota Twins faltering at the moment, the Guardians - who have always kept pace with the Twin cities - have pounced and taken advantage.
Cleveland will face a tough three-game series against play-off challengers the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays haven't performed in August as well as they did in July and their last game against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night was rained out. While they will be fresh coming into the series, the Blue Jays have lost five of their eight games this month.
Cleveland Guardians versus Toronto Blue Jays, Game One of Three
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
19:07, Friday August 12th, 2022
How to watch
Bally Sports Great Lakes, SNET, MLBN
CLE Cavaliers TBC, TOR Blue Jays TBC
The Blue Jays lost the first two games of their series with fellow division side the Baltimore Orioles. With both sides are in a battle for one of the three American League wild card places, those losses might come back to bite the Blue Jays.
The 6-5 loss on Tuesday night meant that the difference between the Blue Jays and the Orioles shrunk to two games and Toronto's grip on the top Wild Card spot to one game over Seattle and one and a half games over the Tampa Bay Rays. Baltimore moved to a half-game behind the Rays.
The Blue Jays and Orioles will play 13 more times over the season's final 52 games, including Wednesday's series finale.
Toronto is now 2-4 against Baltimore this season, which is important because the head-to-head record is the main playoff tiebreaker this year with no Game 163. For example, if the Blue Jays and Orioles finished tied for a playoff spot, the winner of the season series would advance. The other would be eliminated.
The Blue Jays have been playing winning baseball all season, they are +1800 to win the World Series and had it not been for the New York Yankees excelling this season, Toronto would be atop of the AL East and flying towards the postseason.
Pitcher Alek Manoah was frustrated after the defeat to Baltimore, but was complimentary about the Orioles, he spoke to the official Blue Jays' website post-game: "They're playing really good baseball right now, and winning games on the road is always tough in the AL East, we're just waiting for the ball to bounce our way.
"I think we're right where we need to be. We've added a couple of guys and we're coming together as a unit. We'll continue to grind it out and try to become a full product."
The Blue Jays have signed veteran outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr after he was released by the Boston Red Sox on the August 4th.
The 32-year-old was an All-Star in 2016 and a Gold Glove winner for Boston in 2018 where he also won a World Series ring. He hit .210 with three home runs in 91 games for the Red Sox this season.
The Blue Jays' rotation is getting a welcome boost and is almost close to full strength.
Interim manager John Schneider said Stripling, who has been injured since the end of July with a right hip strain, will make a rehab start this weekend for Triple-A Buffalo.
Wednesday night's rainout at Baltimore gives Toronto's rotation an extra day of rest; the Blue Jays can give Manoah an extra day of rest now that Stripling is nearly ready.
While the Blue Jays have struggled in recent days, the bigger picture says that they have won 15 of 23 games, with 10 straight games coming up against the Guardians, Orioles and New York Yankees.
Looking at Cleveland's remaining series. They face play-off contenders the Blue Jays on the road, they host Detroit and the Chicago White Sox for a seven-game home stand, where they could try to knock the White Sox out of the AL Wild Card picture.
Following the home games, the Guardians go back out on the road to face the San Diego Padres (who are chasing a National League Wild Card place) for a two-game series.
They then travel to Seattle for a four-game series followed by three games against Baltimore.