The visiting New York Yankees can clinch the season series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night as the teams play the third of a four-game series in Buffalo, N.Y.
The teams have split the first two games of the series after the Yankees won Tuesday night 12-1.
The Yankees (32-23) lead the season series 5-3 and have a four-game lead over the Blue Jays (28-27) for second-place in the American League East.
New York still has a chance to improve its current fifth-seed standing in the AL while Toronto, currently the eighth seed, is still trying to clinch a playoff spot.
Left-hander Robbie Ray (2-5, 7.17 ERA) will start for Toronto against New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (3-2, 3.27).
Both Gerrit Cole, who struck out seven in seven innings Tuesday, and Tanaka were given an extra day between starts for the Toronto series to set them up for the postseason.
Both will also be pitching with extra rest next week.
“It’s not like I will overdo something just because of more days,” said Tanaka, who is 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA in eight career postseason games.
Tanaka needs one win to reach 79, which would tie him with former Yankees teammate Hiroki Kuroda for second place among Japanese pitchers in the major leagues.
“It is definitely a good feeling to be able to stay here this long to be able to rack up enough wins to tie a pitcher the caliber of Kuroda,” said Tanaka, who with a win would trail only Hideo Nomo (123) in major league wins by a Japanese-born pitcher.
The 31-year-old will be facing Toronto for his second straight start. He pitched a season-high seven innings Thursday and allowed three runs to earn the win.
He is 14-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 22 career starts against Toronto.
Ray has one career start against the Yankees and is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA after a seven-inning outing in 2016.
He is 1-1 with a 5.94 ERA in four appearances (three starts) with the Blue Jays since he was obtained in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Blue Jays started 21-year-old catcher Alejandro Kirk behind the plate for the second game in a row Tuesday. After going 4-for-4 with a double and a home run Monday in an 11-5 win over the Yankees, Kirk was 1-for-3 Tuesday. He is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with a double, a homer and one RBI through his first seven major league games.
Kirk, who had not played above Class A before this season, will share time with regular catcher Danny Jansen.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said he will give Kirk regular at-bats against left-handed pitching, possibly as a designated hitter.
“Honestly, I could see him against a lefty starter (as a DH),” Montoyo said. “On Thursday, (Jordan) Montgomery is starting (for New York). I could see Danny Jansen catching Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kirk (at DH). I could see that easy.”
Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela, briefly a Blue Jay in 2018, continued his hitting surge Tuesday, matching his career best with four hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He had two RBIs. He is batting .444 (20- for-45) with five doubles, one homer and 10 RBIs during his streak.
The Yankees have won 11 of their past 13 games and the Blue Jays have lost seven of their past nine.
The Yankees are 11-16 on the road and the Blue Jays are 13-8 at Sahlen Field in Buffalo.
–Field Level Media