Blue Jays open second half against division rival Rays

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Jul 11, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) shakes hands with catcher Russell Martin (right) after beating the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will exit the All Star Break with a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at home. Toronto trails the Rays by just one game in the AL East standings, but now sit 4.5 back of the division-leading New York Yankees after going 3-7 over their last ten games.

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Despite Mark Buehrle‘s incredible surge over the past several weeks the Blue Jays appear set to save the lefty for their next series in Oakland, instead opting to roll out Drew Hutchison, R.A. Dickey and Marco Estrada at the Rogers Centre.

There are clear implications on the AL playoff race here, but given the date, the Blue Jays desperately need to win a series and spark movement from their general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Creeping a game closer to New York while leapfrogging the Rays could push Anthopoulos to pull the trigger on a deal for starting pitching, but if the club falls 5.5 or 6.5 games back by the end of this series, there could be hesitation.

Hutchison will face Jake Odorizzi in the opener on Friday night before two straight matinees over the weekend. Before we dive into the pitching matchups, let’s take a look across the diamond at the Tampa Bay Rays.

Next: Checking out those pesky Rays