The playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays host the last-place Boston Red Sox Friday in the first game of a three-game series. The Blue Jays are 87-69, first in the wildcard race, while the Red Sox are 74-81, last in the AL East. The Blue Jays lead the season series 13-3 and have won the last 6 games between the two teams. First pitch is at 7:07 p.m. ET.
Blue Jays getting ready for playoffsThe Toronto Blue Jays look like they have locked up the first wildcard spot in the American League. They are 87-69 on the season and lead the Rays by 2 games and the Mariners by 2.5 games. They have only 6 games left and this is their final home stand of the season. The Blue Jays come into this series having lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees, including an 8-3 loss on Wednesday, a historic game that saw Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hit his AL record-tying 61st home run of the season.
61 years since 61.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 29, 2022
Aaron Judge has written his name alongside Roger Maris in baseball's record books. pic.twitter.com/1V4Gums34C
The Jays went with a bullpen game in this one as they start to rest their pitchers for the playoffs. Bo Bichette led the attack with 2 hits while Danny Jensen hit a home run. The Blue Jays' magic number is down to 1 game and they will try to lock that down on Friday when they start their ace, Alek Manoah. Manoah is 15-7 on the season with an ERA of 2.31 in 30 starts. He has 176 strikeouts and 49 walks in 190.2 innings. He threw 7 shutout innings with 8 strikeouts in his last start against the Rays. The Blue Jays have a team ERA of 3.94, which ranks 16th in the majors.
Bogaerts still has a shot at batting titleThere isnʻt a lot for the Red Sox to play for the last few games. It is not like they are a young team looking to get some young players some experience. These are the Red Sox -- they have money and they will spend it. And they know that every season they have a legitimate shot at being a contender for the world series. So this year was obviously a bad one, but the Red Sox will make some moves and they will be back -- probably as a favorite again next year.
Trevor Story emerged as a Gold Glove-caliber 2B this year. But would his arm allow him to play SS if Xander Bogaerts opts out and leaves the Red Sox? Story says yes, but hopes it doesn’t come to that. ‘I don’t see how we get better if we’re losing him.’ https://t.co/7Lo2R6ekmJ— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) September 29, 2022
As for the rest of this season, the only things left to play for are pride and maybe some individual accolades. In terms of the latter, the big thing out there right now is shortstop Xander Bogaerts pursuit of the batting title. As of Thursday, he was hitting .309, second only to Aaron Judge. A strong finish could not only win him a batting title, but ruin Judgeʻs quest for the triple crown. As for Fridayʻs game, Nick Pivetta gets the start for Boston. Pivetta is 10-11 with an ERA of 4,48 in 31 starts. He got shelled for 5 runs in 5 innings against the Yankees in his last start.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Blue Jays magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one and it could very well be wrapped up by the time this game plays Friday if the their opponent, the Red Sox, beat the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. If they did not, then the Blue Jays will be looking to wrap this thing up with their ace, Manoah on the mound. The Red Sox played Thursday afternoon and then had to get to Toronto for Friday night while the Blue Jays had a day off -- all the more reason the superior team, with the superior pitcher, will win this game. Take the Blue Jays with the money line.
Full-Game Total Pick
I just donʻt see their being a whole lot of offense in this game for a few reasons. The Sox are just going through the motions at this point and they face a pitcher in Manoah who has been lights out pretty much all season. Add to that fact they are traveling with no day off and theyʻll likely be low on energy, given that the game means nothing. It does mean something to the Blue Jays, but they wonʻt need much to win as I donʻt see Manoah or the bullpen giving up many runs, given they have a chance to lock down playoff spot. And if they do clinch before the game starts, all the more reason to pick the under if some of their stars sit the game out. Take the under.