TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays could not avoid playing the surging Boston Red Sox because the schedule said they must, but they were able to prevent being swept in the three-game series at the Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays salvaged the finale of the three-game series with an 8-5 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday night, and that should lift their spirits for the three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays that starts Friday night.
The Blue Jays (52-62) are 4-12 against the Red Sox this season and 1-5 against the Rays (58-57).
The series will be Tampa Bay's first visit to Toronto this season.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Marco Estrada (5-8, 4.65 ERA) against Rays left-hander Blake Snell (12-5, 2.27) in the series opener at the Rogers Centre.
The Rays also are coming into the series after a victory. They defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 on Thursday at Tropicana Field to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since July 6.
It was the Rays' sixth straight one-run game, matching the franchise record. They are 22-27 in one-run games this season. Their 49 one-run games top the majors.
"Hopefully, we're looking at that as a positive," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We've got to find ways to separate some games. But if you're in a lot of one-run games, that means you're in a lot of baseball games."
The Rays and Blue Jays are each 9-10 since the All-Star break.
Snell returned from the disabled list (left shoulder fatigue) Saturday against the Chicago White Sox. He allowed one run, three hits and two walks and had three strikeouts in four innings. It was his first start since July 12, although he also pitched in the All-Star Game on July 17.
"Overall, I'm happy with the way I felt," Snell said after his start. "It was more draining than I expected, but I could have gone out again. It's something to build on."
Snell became the first pitcher with 12 consecutive home starts giving up one or no earned runs since Max Lanier of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1943-44. In nine home starts this season, Snell is 6-1 with a 0.97 ERA. He is 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 12 starts on the road.
The Blue Jays are 14-28 this season in games when the opposing teams starts a left-hander.
He is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA (25 1/3 s innings, 13 earned runs) in five career starts against the Blue Jays but hasn't faced them since Aug. 15, 2017, in Toronto when he got the win by allowing four runs in six innings. He is 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in three starts at the Rogers Centre.
Estrada held the Seattle Mariners to one run, one hit and two walks in seven innings on Saturday in a 5-1 win. He is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA in his past five starts.
He has faced the Rays once this season, allowing no runs in six innings, but did not factor in the decision. He is 1-8 with a 4.54 ERA in 15 career games (11 starts) against the Rays.
Before the game Thursday, the Blue Jays called up 24-year-old left-hander Thomas Pannone from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned right-hander Mike Hauschild to the Bisons.
"Right now, he'll be coming out of the bullpen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "If something happens (and) we need some guy who can throw some innings, he'll be perfect for that, and down the road we'll see."