The Toronto Blue Jays will return home from a 3-5 road trip Friday night to open a three-game series against the surging Cleveland Guardians.
The Blue Jays will not have played in two days after losing two in a row to the Baltimore Orioles.
The third game of the series against Baltimore, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed to Sept. 5 because of rain, while Thursday was a scheduled off day for the Blue Jays.
The Guardians, who lead the American League Central by 1 1/2 games, completed a three-game sweep of the host Detroit Tigers on Thursday and have won five in a row.
"We're playing good baseball all around," said Guardians right-hander Zach Plesac, who allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision on Thursday. "It's just fun to be rolling and on a good winning streak. I've been working every week to make sure my stuff is tight."
"All the boys played great today. It was a great team win."
They now turn their attention to a team that's glad to be home.
"It feels like it's been a 15-day trip," Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said. "Three cities is tough, and it was against three teams that are fighting for a playoff spot. We're looking to forward getting back home and starting a good homestand."
The Blue Jays will be in Toronto for six straight games after visiting the Tampa Bay Rays and the Minnesota Twins before ending their road trip in Baltimore.
Toronto occupies the first American League wild-card spot in a race that is tightening.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Jose Berrios (8-4, 5.19 ERA) on Friday.
Berrios is 5-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 16 career starts against Cleveland.
The Guardians will start right-hander Cal Quantrill (8-5, 3.88). He is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in one career start against the Blue Jays.
Berrios was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but the postponement pushed his start to Friday. It could bode well for Berrios, though, who has had better results at home this season.
He has gone 6-0 while posting a 3.23 ERA in 11 starts at home this season, while all four of his losses have come on the road.
Schneider said the contrast is "a bit perplexing."
"Routine is obviously a little different on the road," Schneider said. "But I think that's kind of been his season, a little bit up and down, whether it's home or road. He's better at home, but I have no real explanation for it. His track record is good anywhere."
The Guardians won three of four games from the Blue Jays back in early May in Cleveland.
Cleveland will recall right-hander Peyton Battenfield from Triple-A Columbus Friday and will place right-hander James Karinchak on the restricted list.
Karinchak cannot travel to Toronto because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Battenfield is 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 21 starts at Columbus.
"It's definitely a tough blow," Karinchak said. "But I'm going to cheer my guys on the best I can from wherever I'm at."
Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is on a career-best 20-game hitting streak, batting .386 (32-for-83) with eight doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs.
--Field Level Media