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The Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers are two of the hottest teams in the American League and both are pushing their way toward postseason spots.
A night after Troy Tulowitzki’s late hit helped put Toronto alone atop the AL East, David Price looks to guide the Blue Jays to a fifth straight victory when he faces the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night in Arlington.
Toronto (70-55) has won 20 of 24 since Anthopoulos traded for Tulowitzki on July 28, and the club moved a game ahead of the New York Yankees with Tuesday’s 6-5 victory in the opener of this three-game series.
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Tulowitzki’s two-out RBI single in the ninth tied it before Josh Donaldson, a front-runner for the AL MVP after being acquired from Oakland in the offseason, hit a high chopper to Adrian Beltre. The Rangers’ third baseman made a wide throw to first, and his error allowed Ben Revere to score the go-ahead run.
“(Tulowitzki is) one of the best players in baseball, has been for a number of years,” manager John Gibbons said. “Right guy, right time.”
Chris Colabello, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion homered for the Blue Jays, who are poised to make their first postseason appearance since winning the second of back-to-back World Series titles in 1993.
Price (12-4, 2.40 ERA) has been doing his part, going 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in four starts since coming over from Detroit at the non-waiver deadline. He gave up two runs and struck out nine in eight innings of Friday’s 9-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The left-hander received three runs of support combined in his final three starts with the Tigers, the same amount he got before he even took the mound against the Angels. The majors’ top offense has provided him with an average of 6.82 runs per nine innings.
“When you have your go-to guy on the mound and you get three early runs, he was in cruise mode from there,” said Revere, who was acquired from Philadelphia at the trade deadline. “(Price) gets that edge. You look in his eyes, and he’s all about his game.”
Price is 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA in five career starts in Arlington, but he pitched a complete game the last time he was there to lead Tampa Bay over the Rangers 5-2 on Sept. 30, 2013, in a wild-card tiebreaker.
Elvis Andrus is 10 for 23 lifetime against Price and went 2 for 4 on Tuesday. Rougned Odor homered and had an RBI double, but he left with a finger injury suffered warming up before the start of the seventh inning.
The Rangers (64-60) had their three-game winning streak snapped and their lead for the second wild card trimmed to one-half game over the Angels and Minnesota.
“It’s not fun to lose, and it’s not fun to lose like this,” said closer Shawn Tolleson, who blew his second save in 27 chances
Texas has lost seven of the last eight home meetings with the Blue Jays and sends Colby Lewis (14-5, 4.29) to the hill looking to get back on track.
Lewis’ 6.95 run-support average – ranked fourth in baseball – is part of the reason he’s looking to become the AL’s second 15-game winner after Houston’s Dallas Keuchel beat the Yankees on Tuesday.
The right-hander hasn’t needed much offense lately, though. He gave up one run in a 12-4 win over Tampa Bay on Aug. 15 before giving up six hits over seven innings of a 2-0 win over Detroit in his first scoreless outing since May 1.
Lewis, though, has a 7.12 ERA in nine career starts against Toronto.
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