Blue Jays scoreboard watching: Toronto can breathe easier in playoff race

Blue Jays scoreboard watching: Toronto can breathe easier in playoff race

Welcome to Blue Jays Scoreboard Watching, a regular look at how Toronto is faring in relation to its playoff rivals. Here we'll provide an update on the standings, recap what each team did the night before and look ahead to their next matchup. Only teams within five games of the Blue Jays in the wild-card race will be included.

The Toronto Blue Jays entered this week's four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles saying they wanted to bury their pesky division rival. While it would be premature to say they completely removed the Orioles from the American League postseason race, the Blue Jays took a big step toward accomplishing that by winning three of the four games.

All-star pitcher Alek Manoah provided the exclamation mark by tossing eight dominant innings in Wednesday's series finale en route to a 4-1 Toronto victory. The Blue Jays now sit 4.5 games ahead of the Orioles in the standings and have solidified their grip on a playoff spot. The next goal is to chase down the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners for the top wild-card seed, and maybe even give the suddenly catchable New York Yankees a run for their money in the AL East.

Toronto will enjoy a day off on Thursday before beginning a three-game weekend series with the Texas Rangers to cap what has been a 6-1 road trip thus far through Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Here's how the Blue Jays' biggest competitors fared on Wednesday and what they have on deck.

New York Yankees

Last night's result: Light-hitting shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa's third home run of the season went for a grand slam in Game 2 of a doubleheader as the Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins in the twin bill. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole struck out a season-high 14 in the night game as New York won its fourth consecutive contest.

Game 1 saw Aaron Judge launch his 55th homer of the year before Oswaldo Cabrera delivered a walk-off single in extra innings.

What's next: The Yankees go for a sweep in the finale of their four-game series with the Twins. Nestor Cortes (9-4, 2.68 ERA) returns from the injured list to start for New York while Minnesota counters with Sonny Gray (7-4, 3.10 ERA).

Tampa Bay Rays

Last night's result: The Rays simply refuse to lose, dispatching the Boston Red Sox 1-0 as the pitching staff came up big. Taylor Walls drove in the only run with an infield single in the fifth as Tampa Bay won for the eighth time in nine games.

What's next: Off day before hitting the road for a crucial three-game set with the Yankees.

Seattle Mariners

Last night's result: The Mariners began the day with the fewest errors in all of baseball, but made three on Wednesday leading to six unearned runs as they fell to the Chicago White Sox. Slugger Eloy Jiménez drove in three runs as Chicago took two of three from Seattle.

What's next: Off day before a three-game home series against the Atlanta Braves.

Baltimore Orioles

Last night's result: Baltimore couldn't muster much off Manoah as Toronto won 4-1 and took three of four at Camden Yards. After plating a run in the first inning, the Orioles only mustered one hit in a 23-batter stretch off the big right-hander.

What's next: Off day ahead of a three-game home series with the Boston Red Sox.