It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Toronto Blue Jays (51-40, +0.05 betting units) this year, but they went into the All-Star break on a hot streak, and they’ll begin the unofficial second half of the season Friday night with the first of three road games against the struggling Oakland Athletics (38-51, –12.34 units). Sportsnet has the coverage starting at 10:05 PM ET.
Despite the continued absence of injured outfielder Jose Bautista (turf toe), the Blue Jays have won eight of their last nine to move to third place in the American League East. Toronto has the best run differential in the division at plus-75, just six runs behind Cleveland on the junior circuit.
The Athletics, meanwhile, are near the bottom of the American League with a minus-69 run differential, and they’ve lost eight of their last 11 games. Oakland ranks No. 27 in the majors in hitting with a .701 OPS, and No. 21 in pitching at 4.40 FIP. There are injuries nearly everywhere on the diamond; relief pitcher Fernando Rodriguez (3.64 FIP) is the latest casualty, out for 15 days with a strained right rotator cuff.