Toronto will wrap up what has been a pivotal four-game series at Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Jays came up short in the first two games of the series, extending their losing streak to three games. Minnesota has now won its last four games, effectively playing its spoiler role. This story was published prior to Saturday night’s game.
Blue Jays in must-win situationToronto was red-hot to open September, going on an eight-game winning streak and winning 12 of its first 13 games this month. The Blue Jays were able to get into a playoff position because of that stretch, but they have fallen out of the picture since then. They are 4-8 in their last 12 games, including losses in their last three games. Their regular-season schedule concludes with a series against the Yankees and a series against Baltimore. Toronto enters Saturday’s action trailing New York by two games for the final American League Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays have the second-best offense in the MLB, batting at a .264 clip.
Most homers in a season by a 2B:— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 25, 2021
1) Davey Johnson - 43 (1973)
T2) Brian Dozier - 42 (2016)
T2) Rogers Hornsby - 42 (1922)
T2) Marcus Semien - 42 (2021) pic.twitter.com/dnsTw5Q5V3
Designated hitter Vlad Guerrero Jr. leads the team with 183 hits, including an MLB-best 46 home runs. He also has the second-best batting average in baseball at .319. Shortstop Bo Bichette has 176 hits, while second baseman Marcus Semien has added 166 hits. Semien has crushed 42 homers. They will be facing a Minnesota pitching staff that is No. 26 with a team ERA of 4.84. Right-handed pitcher Alek Manoah will start for Toronto on Sunday. The rookie allowed two runs across six innings against Tampa Bay in his last outing. He walked a career-high six batters, but he was able to limit the damage. Manoah has a 2.29 ERA and 21 strikeouts across his last three starts.
Jax hoping for stronger outingMinnesota theoretically does not have anything to play for, but that has not stopped them from putting together a four-game winning streak. The Twins took both of their games at Wrigley Field against Chicago earlier this week. They added the pair of wins over Toronto to open this series, including a 3-1 win on Friday. Minnesota has been out of the playoff hunt for almost the entirety of the second half of the season, entering Saturday’s game with the third-worst record in the AL. The Twins rank No. 18 offensively with a team batting average of .241.
Shortstop Jorge Polanco leads the way with 152 hits and 91 RBIs, batting at a .271 clip. There has been a major dip in production after that, though. Second baseman Luis Arraez has 114 hits, while third baseman Josh Donaldson has added 106 base knocks. They are facing a Toronto pitching staff that is ninth in the MLB with a team ERA of 3.92. Right-hander Griffin Jax is going to be on the mound for Minnesota. He allowed three runs across three innings against Chicago in his last start. The rookie needed 72 pitches to record nine outs, but he did strike out six batters. He has struggled at times this season, entering this start with a 6.75 ERA.
The Blue Jays are:
- 13-3 in their last 16 Sunday games
- 6-2 in their last 8 during game 4 of a series
- 32-14 in their last 46 vs. a team with a losing record
The Twins are:
- 5-14 in their last 19 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
If Toronto has any shot at making the postseason, it has to find a way to win this game. I expect the Blue Jays to come through in what is a nice pitching matchup for them. Manoah has been a much better rookie than Jax and is certainly more reliable. He has been consistent over his last three starts and should not have many issues with this Minnesota lineup. Jax struggled to find the strike zone in his last start, needing nearly 80 pitching to get through three innings. He is facing one of the best lineups in baseball on Sunday.
Full-Game Total Pick
Minnesota is seeing the ball well enough that it does make me want to avoid playing the under. The Twins have put together a four-game winning streak due to some strong at-bats. Manoah has been solid this year, but he is not someone I trust to put together six or seven shutout frames. Jax has allowed several crooked numbers and this could be another one. The Blue Jays have gone over the total in five of their last seven games against a starting pitcher with a WHIP greater than 1.30.