The Toronto Blue Jays have some breathing room, an offense that is on fire, and a pitcher up next who has rarely lost of late.
Marco Estrada looks to deliver the streaking Blue Jays a road sweep Thursday over the Texas Rangers and former teammate Yovani Gallardo, who is searching for his 100th career victory.
Five straight wins and two consecutive losses from the New York Yankees have supplied Toronto (71-55) with a two-game lead in the AL East. The Blue Jays have won 21 of 25, a span since July 28 that has seen them climb from eight games back in the division.
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Estrada (11-7, 3.27 ERA) has racked up four wins in five starts during that stretch, pitching to a 2.37 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .155 average in 30 1-3 innings.
He has 10 wins in his past 15 starts with a 3.00 ERA and a batting average against of .204.
The right-hander has allowed five runs and eight hits over 11 2-3 innings in his last two outings, a 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 15 and a 15-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
Toronto's potent offense gives its pitchers plenty of room for error.
Wednesday night's 12-4 win over the Rangers - who dropped a half game back of the AL's second wild-card spot - gave the Blue Jays 54 runs during their five-game streak. They've batted .347 and hit 11 homers and 11 doubles in that stretch.
Edwin Encarnacion led the way Wednesday by extending his league-high hitting streak to 21 games with a sixth-inning grand slam - his second of the season against the Rangers (64-61). He is batting .392 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs during the streak that dates back to July 26.
''We've been waiting for Eddie to break out in a big way,'' manager John Gibbons told MLB's official website. ''I'm seeing it now. I think he's feeling it like the rest of the guys.''
Encarnacion has hit Gallardo relatively well in his career with five hits in 14 at-bats, including three home runs.
Gallardo (10-9, 3.25) - a teammate of Estrada's with the Brewers from 2010-14 - got the best of Encarnacion and the Blue Jays on June 27, though, in a 4-0 win. Encarnacion had one of Toronto's three hits in 8 1-3 innings against the right-hander.
Since giving up five runs in three consecutive starts to end July, Gallardo has picked up victories in three of his four August starts with an ERA of 2.45, though he hasn't pitched seven full innings since June.
He scattered eight hits over six scoreless innings in a 5-3 win at Detroit on Saturday.
"I think the breaking ball is a big key for him," manager Jeff Banister said of Gallardo. "That gets these hitters off his fastball, and he was able to pound the outside of the strike zone. … Just a fine job putting up the six zeros for us."
Texas second baseman Rougned Odor is hopeful to return to the lineup Thursday after a grounder almost tore off the nail on his right middle finger Tuesday. He had a splint Wednesday and said doctors were able to save the nail.