The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t been in second place in the AL East for nearly five months.
They can accomplish that Monday with a win over the Boston Red Sox in the Blue Jays’ final regular-season home game.
Both squads have been eliminated from playoff contention, but are still jockeying for second place in the division. Toronto (82-73) was tied with the Red Sox (83-73) for second in the AL East on May 1, and hasn’t had sole possession of second since April 26.
The Red Sox have finished first or second in the division in eight straight seasons. Toronto hasn’t been in either of the top two spots since finishing first in 1993 en route to its second straight World Series championship.
“Taking second place would be great for us,” said Blue Jays pitcher Gustavo Chacin.
Toronto appears to be on the right track, winning seven of its last 10 games including a 13-4 victory over Boston on Sunday. The Blue Jays matched a season-high in runs and recorded 16 hits—their most since July 15— capitalizing on five misplayed balls by Boston outfielders.
Boston’s David Ortiz hit his 53rd homer and tied Babe Ruth’s AL record with his 32nd on the road.
“It feels good. You’re talking about a guy that did everything in the game,” said Ortiz, who also leads the AL with 134 RBIs. “When your name is up there with those guys, it tells you you’re doing your thing.”
Tim Wakefield (7-10, 4.50 ERA) will start the final road game of the season for Boston. The veteran knuckleballer is making his third start after missing nearly two months with a stress fracture in his rib cage.
Wakefield is 0-2 with 9.72 ERA and .429 opponent batting average in his last two starts,
He allowed six runs and eight hits, including two homers, over 3 1-3 innings — his shortest outing of the year—in a 7-3 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
“It was dancing a lot,” Wakefield said of his knuckler. “It’s probably one of the better nights I’ve had all year, as far as stuff-wise, but I didn’t capitalize on that and I didn’t make the pitches at the right time when I needed to.”
The right-hander, who is facing Blue Jays for the first time this season, has won his last five starts against them since April 21, 2004.
He will be opposed by rookie Shaun Marcum (2-4, 5.51), who’s failed to get past the fourth inning in each of his last two starts. After lasting only 2 2-3 innings in a loss to Seattle on Sept. 12, he failed to get a decision Tuesday in a 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
The right-hander allowed three runs, five hits and walked three in four innings.
Marcum is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in nine games, including six starts, at home. He has made two career relief appearances against the Red Sox, allowing one run and four hits through three innings.