The Toronto Blue Jays have brushed off the cobwebs of Charlie Montoyo's sacking and moved into first gear to try and make the playoffs.
They face a tough four-game series against a Minnesota Twins side battling to remain top of the American League Central Division.
Since the July 15th the Blue Jays have hit their straps and won 11 games losing only three.
Toronto went on a seven-game winning streak, sweeping the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, this included a blockbuster 28-5 victory, whilst winning a series at home to the Detroit Tigers.
They have also squared series against the St.Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Twins, in contrast, have had two losing months in June and July - and have still held onto first place for 101 days including off-days - over the Cleveland Guardians. The Chicago White Sox have started to put a good run together and now sit only two games behind the Twins in third place.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Minnesota Twins, Game One of Four.
Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
19:40 ET Thursday, August 4th, 2022
How to watch
SNET, Bally Sports North, bet365 Live Streaming
TOR Blue Jays -120, MIN Twins +100
Until Wednesday's defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto's batters have been in red-hot form.
Teoscar Hernandez, in-particular, has been a bright spot for several weeks for the Blue Jays, hitting .329 with six home runs and 19 RBI's since July 8th.
Speaking to the official Toronto Blue Jays' website, Hernandez said: "Right now, I'm more patient at the plate. I'm laying off pitches that would be ground balls and getting good at-bats. I just try to focus on my game and do things to help the team."
The true impact of the Twins' trade deadline move for four players won't be felt for weeks to come, but they got a taste in the 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
Three of the four helped to get the win; Sandy Leon, Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez helping set up a series win as a new-look unit.
Before the trade deadline, the Twins had an issue with some of the bullpen having to go extra innings. Now with the trade deadlines, team manager Rocco Baldelli says the bullpen has more length, so he doesn't need to turn to his middle-innings guy, Griffin Jax.
Baldelli spoke to MLB.com after the victory and said: "We saw some elite sliders from Fulmer. We saw Lopez go out and have as dominant and clean of an inning as you want to see. It's exciting to turn the ball over to those guys, let them do their thing out there."
The Blue Jays are looking to be boosted on their roster by having some of their pitching back from injury. The earliest of those could be Ross Stripling who should only miss a couple of starts, but has been on the 15-day injured list since July 31st.
Andrew Vasquez is due back in mid-August and could be an option for the Blue Jays bullpen when he returns.
This also includes lefty pitcher Taylor Saucedo who is due back anytime now. The long-term injured pitchers include Julian Merryweather and Nate Pearson and both of those are expected back for the September stretch. Starter Hyun Jin Ryu has had Tommy John surgery and won't return till 2023.
Minnesota did edge the three-game series earlier in the season at Rogers Centre in Toronto. In seven meetings last season, the Blue Jays defeated the Twins 4-3 and Toronto leads the all-time record, 228-178.
On the mound for the Blue Jays will be Alek Manoah. The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher has an ERA of 2.43 this season, with an 11-5 record and 114 strikeouts in 126 innings pitched. Manoah lost his last outing against Detroit giving up four earned runs in a 4-2 loss.
For Minnesota, they will have Sonny Gray pitching. The 32-year-old has a 6-3 record this season with a 3.41 ERA and defeated the San Diego Padres last time out. The righty threw five innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out five with just one walk.
Now that the Twins have sorted their middle-innings out, this series could be closer than perhaps originally thought. Toronto could do with George Springer back from short-term injury, but the Blue Jays can win the series 3-1.