Blue Jays-Yankees Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays announced themselves as serious players in the wild-card race by making two of baseball's biggest acquisitions at last week's trade deadline.

Considering the way they're playing - and their many games left versus the AL East-leading New York Yankees - a division crown might even be attainable.

Toronto plays the first of 13 remaining matchups with New York on Friday night in the Bronx.

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The Blue Jays (58-52), energized by the additions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, swept a four-game series from Minnesota and have won eight of nine, racking up 16 homers while averaging 6.3 runs in that span.

Edwin Encarnacion hit his 250th career homer and second in as many days in Thursday's 9-3 victory against the Twins. He's 14 for 32 during a nine-game hitting streak and will look to continue his recent success at Yankee Stadium, where he's batting .440 with three homers in his last six visits.

Toronto has pulled within one half-game of the Los Angeles Angels for the league's top wild-card spot and trails New York by 4 1/2 games, its smallest deficit in the division since July 11.

The Blue Jays are looking to end a major league-worst 22-year playoff-drought.

"There's just a different feeling," Mark Buehrle said after recording his 12th victory. "I felt the same way in '05 when (the Chicago White Sox) won the World Series."

Toronto would be well-served to take advantage of these precious matchups against the Yankees, against whom they've won four of six this year.

"We know how explosive they are," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "We just have to make pitches."

While Girardi is concerned with the Blue Jays' offense, New York has struggled to score against the Blue Jays this season, totaling 16 runs.

Offense could be particularly tough for the Yankees (61-46) to come by in this series with R.A. Dickey, Price and Marco Estrada on tap for Toronto. Though Dickey (6-10, 4.06 ERA) isn't having a classic season, he's 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA in his last six meetings with New York, and allowed just two runs over 14 1-3 innings in two meetings this year after a victory May 4.

Dickey's been excellent of late overall, going 3-0 with an 0.92 ERA in his last four games.

The Yankees also struggled against fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Boston, totaling four hits while striking out nine times in Wright's eight innings.

New York bounced back with a 2-1 win Thursday, though, going ahead on Jacoby Ellsbury's fifth home run of the season.

The Yankees are no strangers to the long ball either, homering in 12 straight games, their most since a 14-game run in 2009. Their 146 home runs rank third in the majors and just behind Toronto (147).

Nathan Eovaldi (11-2, 4.30) hopes his charmed season continues after getting strong backing in a 13-6 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday when he gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings. His 7.8 run support average ranks second behind Toronto's Drew Hutchison (8.1).

This is Eovaldi's first appearance against Toronto.

Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin has made his former team pay in the season series, batting .400 with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs. He was 0 for 12 in the first three games against Minnesota before getting Thursday off.