Blue Jays face tall challenge in Kansas City Royals

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Jul 29, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (left) greets shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) as they celebrate an 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays welcome the Kansas City Royals to the Rogers Centre on Thursday to begin a critical four game set. Now 7.0 games back of the Yankees, Toronto will need to lean heavily on their 13 remaining games against the division leader while making up some marginal ground otherwise. In the Wild Card race, the Blue Jays currently sit 2.0 games back of the Minnesota Twins at 51-51.

In Kansas City, the Jays meet a team that’s fully capable of sweeping a series. Recent additions of Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist have bolstered an already formidable roster that owns a nine game lead (61-39) in the AL Central. Cueto will make his Royals debut on Friday.

Three of four would be a massive takeaway for Toronto here, and they may get some reinforcements ahead of the Friday trade deadline. There is currently no starter listed for Friday’s matchup, and Alex Anthopoulos will be a busy man looking for another trade to compliment his splash addition of Troy Tulowitzki.

Next: First up: A look across the diamond