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|4:07 PM PT5:07 PM MT6:07 PM CT7:07 PM ET19:07 ET23:07 GMT7:07 4:07 PM MST6:07 PM EST6:37 PM VEN3:07 UAE (+1)6:07 PM CT, September 22, 2017
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario Attendance: 42,153
Yankees still have regular-season goals while visiting Toronto
TORONTO -- The New York Yankees have virtually assured themselves a spot in the American League wild-card game, probably as hosts.
They could avoid that one-game playoff, however, by winning the American League East, which is still possible, though not probable.
When the Yankees (85-67) open a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre, that will be their goal.
They will enter the series trailing the first-place Boston Red Sox by three games. Each has 10 games to play.
"I'm happy about the way we're playing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's been my focus the whole time here. Let's pay attention to what we do, and I like the way that we're playing. I think that's important, and we need to continue to play that way. And let's see what happens."
The Yankees, who had Thursday off, have won three games in a row and eight of their past 10. They are 14-5 in September.
They will send out right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA) in the opener Friday. Tanaka is 4-1 over his last five starts.
"We've been playing really good baseball," Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. "We kind of have our backs against the wall a little bit, but we've been playing really good baseball, and we just need to continue to do that and keep the pressure on them, make them keep winning."
The Blue Jays, who will finish below .500 this season after losing 1-0 Thursday to the Kansas City Royals, will start right-hander Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84), who signed a one-year, $13 million contract extension on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays have little to play for now that they cannot even reach .500 this year after going to the American League Championship Series in each of the past two seasons.
"You try to win every night," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I don't get caught up in (the record). We're more focused on seeing some of the younger guys play. But you play to win. You want to finish strong. At this point I don't know if it's going to make or break my offseason."
Gibbons feels that his team has continued to play hard despite being out of contention for quite a while.
"We've had some sloppy games, no doubt," Gibbons said. "But the effort's been good. The focus has been good. I've been on teams where it's just the opposite. They shut it down. I don't think we have that problem with this group."
The Blue Jays do play well against the Yankees. They are 7-6 against New York this season, including a 4-3 mark at Rogers Centre. Since July 26, 2014, the Blue Jays are 37-23 against the Yankees.
Estrada, who struggled earlier in the season, has not lost since Aug. 15 and in his six starts since then, beginning Aug. 20, he is 4-0 with a 3.89 ERA.
Estrada will be making his fifth start of the season against the Yankees, going 2-1 with a 5.64 ERA in the first four. He is 5-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 14 career games (13 starts) against the Yankees.
Starlin Castro (15-for-36) and Aaron Judge (5-for-12) are each batting .417 against Estrada.
Tanaka has enjoyed success against the Blue Jays. He is 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 career starts against them, including a 2-0 record with a 3.63 ERA in three starts this season. At the Rogers Centre, he is 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five career starts.
Updated September 22, 2017