Luis Severino was a name swirling around the New York Yankees' rumored deals to land David Price at the trade deadline. The prized prospect, however, stayed put while the much sought after Price went to the division rival Toronto Blue Jays.

Severino and Price will pitch opposite one another Thursday night as the Yankees and Blue Jays open a pivotal four-game series in the Bronx.

The Blue Jays (79-60) lost two of three in Boston this week but retained their 1 1/2-game AL East lead over the Yankees (77-61), who dropped the final two games against Baltimore.

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Seven games remain between the teams - the other three in Toronto from Sept. 21-23 - each carrying increased importance.

"I think you'd have to have your head in the sand to think that they're not important games," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB's official website. "Obviously it's the team that we're fighting for first place, and the importance of winning the division the way that the playoffs are set up, the games are extremely important."

The Yankees took two of three in Toronto from Aug. 14-16, but the Blue Jays won seven of the first nine games in the season series. Toronto has taken five of six in New York this season.

"I expect it to be very intense. A crazy place like New York normally always is," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I'm excited about it. I know our guys are excited about it. We haven't been in one of these things in, well - nobody out here has experienced it with this team. So we're looking forward to it."

Toronto's two most recent losses were lopsided, an 11-4 defeat in Monday's opener against the Red Sox and a 10-4 loss in Wednesday's finale.

Price (14-5, 2.43 ERA) will try to steady the division leaders versus a team he has pitched well against in a Toronto uniform. In two starts against the Yankees since getting traded from Detroit on July 30, Price is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA.

That is a stark contrast from his last two starts against the Yankees with Detroit. In his final start against them in 2014 and his first in 2015 combined, Price allowed 22 hits and 16 runs in 4 1-3 innings for a massive ERA of 33.23.

Chase Headley (.500), Brian McCann (.435 with three homers) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.333) have each hit Price hard in their careers.

The left-hander, though, hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his seven starts since joining the Blue Jays, going 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA.

The Yankees had to wait a bit longer before seeing a return from Severino, but their patience has paid off.

Severino (3-2, 2.04) has five quality starts in six outings since his promotion from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Aug. 5, and is 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA in his past three.

The 21-year-old right-hander last lost at Toronto on Aug. 16, yielding three runs - two on Jose Bautista's homer - and five hits over six innings in a 3-1 defeat. He walked three and struck out a career-high nine.

Severino can struggle with his command at times, walking 13 over 24 1-3 innings in his last four outings.

Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner missed the entire series against the Orioles due to a jammed left shoulder, but grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning Wednesday.