The Blue Jays launch a crucial series in Boston

This week’s American League East matchup in Boston features a role reversal from the norm as the Toronto Blue Jays enter a three-game series against the Red Sox with a dominating hand in the standings.

The opening is Tuesday evening.

The Blue Jays entered the week in a virtual tie with Tampa Bay and Seattle atop the wildcard standings after taking two of the Yankees’ three in New York.

Despite a 4-2 loss in Sunday’s series finale, Toronto has won four of five games. In those five games, the team’s starting pitchers have allowed just three earned runs in 30 innings.

“(We) are throwing really, really well,” interim manager John Schneider said after Sunday’s game, in which Alek Manoah allowed just one earned run on four hits in six innings. “Starting the pitching, the bullpen…I think you look at the way our pitching happened, it was a really good streak.”

Boston, meanwhile, was unable to earn its third straight series win after Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Baltimore at the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“It’s not an easy day, in terms of travel and all that,” manager Alex Cora said. “But when you get here and forget about all the luxury and the five-star hotels and the travels and all that, and you connect with the kids and the whole atmosphere, it was great.”

It was a memorable day, but the loss took the Red Sox down to six games in the wild card race.

Franchy Cordero’s tying home run in the eighth inning was wasted as the Orioles took the lead half an inning later against oft-used reliever John Schreiber.

Neither the Blue Jays nor the Red Sox have announced who will pitch on Tuesday.

Boston was originally scheduled to start Nathan Eovaldi, who was pulled from his scheduled Thursday outing in Pittsburgh with a sore muscle. However, Eovaldi’s return to the rotation will be delayed as Cora says the right-hander ‘wasn’t able to bounce back’.

“I feel like it’s going a bit slower than expected. But I feel a lot better every day,” Eovaldi said. “It’s just how far we can push it back. We want to make sure it’s 100 per cent, especially on the road for that final stretch.”

Eovaldi, who said he felt comfortable enough to pitch in his original spot, is hoping to avoid another stint on the injured list. He was reinstated on July 15 after dealing with lower back inflammation.

The Red Sox are hoping to have first baseman Eric Hosmer available after missing Sunday’s game with lower back pain.

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who signed with the Blue Jays on Aug. 9 after being released, has gone for three runs in his last two starts. He had a two-run brace in Saturday’s 5-2 win at New York and tied the game on goal-laden runs in Sunday’s seventh inning.

The series will mark the first time Bradley faces the organization that drafted him in 2011. His playoff experience will come in handy at the young clubhouse.

“I just try to help in any way I can,” Bradley said. “Obviously they’re a really good team. I’m delighted to be here. … It’s going to be fun (to be in a playoff race). There will be a lot more attention, but (I would just say to the rest of the team) to enjoy the moment and have fun.”

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