Jays have Sox squarely in their sights

Jays have Sox squarely in their sights

The Blue Jays have a chance to accomplish something they haven't done since winning the World Series in 1993.

Toronto has a shot at second place in its division.

Blue Jays players will point out that the club hasn't officially been eliminated from making the postseason, though. They insist that's still the team's focus.

"Our goal is still to make the playoffs," Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus said. "You have to keep looking at it that way until it's mathematically unavailable to you. It's never over 'til it's over -- not to sound cliche. But there's been bigger deficits than we're facing that teams have come back from."

That may be true, but first things first -- and that means second place, which has been a spot reserved for the Red Sox over the last eight seasons. Boston is currently in the middle of a tailspin that has dropped it out of the American League East lead, and the club is barely clinging to second.

The Red Sox have gone 8-21 in August and head back home on the heels of a six-game losing streak. Meeting them in Boston on Thursday will be the third-place Blue Jays, who sit just two games back of the Red Sox in the division standings. The four-game series is a chance for Toronto to overtake Boston in the AL East.

"It'll be an exciting series," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We haven't been there in a while and we'd like to leapfrog them. If we finish in second place, it wouldn't be status quo."

"We're going to go in there and play as well as we can, and hopefully it works out," Glaus added.

AL Cy Young Award candidate Roy Halladay will start in the opener for the Blue Jays. The right-hander is in the midst of another stellar season, but is coming off a hard-luck loss. A victory over Boston would allow Halladay to become the first pitcher in the Majors to reach 17 wins this season.

On Saturday, Halladay gave up two runs -- both on solo home runs -- on four hits against the Royals in his fourth complete game of the season. Through the first three innings, the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner threw 34 pitches -- only three for balls. He recorded 24 first-pitch strikes to the 31 batters he faced, struck out seven, and induced 17 outs via ground ball. Unfortunately for Halladay and the Blue Jays, the Royals defeated Toronto, 2-0.

Boston will counter with left-hander David Wells. In August, Wells has posted a 2.65 ERA, but has only gone 2-2 due to a lack of run support. In six starts at Fenway Park this year, Wells is 2-2 with a 6.09 ERA. That includes a defeat against the Jays at home on April 12, when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits in four innings.

Pitching matchup
TOR: RHP Roy Halladay (16-4, 3.12 ERA)
Halladay is 8-6 with a 4.46 ERA in 26 career outings versus the Red Sox.

BOS: LHP David Wells (2-3, 4.98 ERA)
Wells is 5-10 with a 5.82 ERA in 20 career starts against the Blue Jays.

Player to watch
Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells has hit .433 (13-for-30) with two home runs, four doubles and five RBIs in his career against David Wells.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• FAN 590 AM

Up next
• Friday: Blue Jays (LHP Ted Lilly, 11-11, 4.78) at Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 3-3, 6.91), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Blue Jays (RHP A.J. Burnett, 6-6, 4.53) at Red Sox (TBA), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Blue Jays (LHP Gustavo Chacin, 6-3, 5.90) at Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 14-9, 5.11), 2:05 p.m. ET

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.