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The World Series is delicately poised at 2-2
  1. MLB

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays were some pundits' picks for the American League pennant, while a lot of them predicted the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series.

And the team their predictions went for to lose the championship was the Blue Jays and, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr not having the MVP season he had last season, it hasn't quite happened.

The Blue Jays are still serious contenders, although they will have to do it the hard way by defeating their divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays on their way to a Wild Card spot.

What

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays, Game One of Four

Where

Tropicana Field, St Petersburg, Florida

When

18.40 ET, Thursday September 22nd

How to watch

SNET, Bally Sports Sun

Injury concerns hamper Rays

The Rays have had their fair share of injuries this season and none more so than their starting pitchers.

They had another scary moment on Tuesday night in their 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros as ace Shane McClanahan walked off the mound with a trainer during a plate appearance in the fifth inning of his second start back from the 15-day injured list.

The left-hander exited the game as it was disclosed later with tightness and spasms in the left side of his neck. This wasn't a recurrence of the left shoulder injury that sent him to the IL and he believes he will be able to make his next start.

Speaking to the official Rays website he said: "I fought to stay in the game. I feel fine now. I felt fine five seconds after, but in the middle of September I respect the precautionary move. I'm ready to get back out there and help this team win.

"Just a little tweak, whatever you want to call it. Tried stretching it out, felt fine. They saw and exercised the abundance of caution, but I think it was the right move.

"Obviously I'm frustrated. Middle of September, we're in a playoff push, I need to be better than that. I could have done a way better job tonight executing pitches, throwing quality strikes and limiting the damage."

There is good news on the way, though, for the Rays, as they hope to have pitcher Tyler Glasnow back for the weekend.

The 29-year-old has been pitching a rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Durham for the past three games as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. It's thought that Glasnow could pitch in a couple of games before the playoffs.

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On the mound for the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays will have Jose Berrios on the mound and overall the 28-year-old has been disappointing this season.

He has won two of his three last starts, both against Baltimore, but did have an impressive victory against the New York Yankees a month ago. However, this is his worst season since his 2016 rookie year, after signing a seven-year, $131million extension to his contract last November.

The Blue Jays require him to keep pitching as he has done over the past month as they look for a playoff position.

If the top of their rotation, Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Ross Stripling and Berrios, pitches to its potential, the Blue Jays could do real damage in the playoffs.

Berrios is key to this - if he is good, then the Blue Jays will require him to be more consistent in his appearances and he appears to be getting there.

Head-to-Head

It's close this season, the Rays have a slight edge in the games played so far with eight wins to the Blue Jays seven.

The Rays have won the Season series over the past two seasons as well. Kevin Cash's side have a big opportunity at home to cement their place in the playoffs with a sweep of Toronto at Tropicana Field.

The last six games have been split, so there isn’t much between the two rosters who have been playing catch-up to the New York Yankees all season.

While the Yankees lead the AL East, they should have wrapped up the Division right now, just as the Dodgers and the Astros have already.

Prediction

The Blue Jays have the slight advantage over the Rays at the moment in terms of the AL East positions. I think the series will be split, two winning games each.

The confirmation of the playoffs for either side will have to wait just that little bit longer.

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