The Rays have outscored opponents, 32-8, over their last three contests following a four-game skid. Tampa Bay trails Oakland by 4 1/2 games for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Matt Moore is scheduled to make his fourth start against the Jays this year. In his first full season as a starter, Moore is 10-11 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 outings. The left-hander has remained a constant in a rotation hit hard by injuries, and that's helped keep the club's playoff hopes alive.
"One thing I like to take away from it is to stay healthy," Moore said. "It's a big goal just to be there every fifth day and at least have that sense of reliability from the club. I think I've got two or three more [starts] to improve and build on those, and hopefully we can keep this thing going and see where we're at."
Toronto is 2-8 over its last 10 games. The Blue Jays have dropped four in a row to open an 11-game road swing.
Perhaps the return of infielder Yunel Escobar could give the Jays a boost. Escobar served a three-game suspension this week for writing a homophobic slur on his eye-black patches during a game on Sept. 15. But the shortstop did not start on Friday, the first day he was eligible following the incident. He singled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of a 12-1 loss to the Rays.
Brandon Morrow, who will start for Toronto, is coming off a strong outing against Boston, when he tossed six scoreless innings. The right-hander has a 2.89 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 28 innings since returning from the 60-day disabled list with a strained oblique muscle.
Blue Jays: Torrealba traded to Brewers
Toronto traded third-string catcher Yorvit Torrealba to the Brewers on Friday for future cash considerations or a player to be named.
Torrealba, 34, appeared in 10 games with the Blue Jays, batting .214 with one home run. The veteran also played 49 games with the Rangers this season and hit .236 with three homers.
Toronto signed Torrealba to a Minor League deal in August and both sides agreed that Torrealba would possibly be moved to another team once J.P. Arencibia returned from the disabled list.
"It was part of the agreement in which he came here," Farrell said. "When J.P. was injured and we needed catching depth, we signed Yorvit with the understanding that once J.P. comes back, if there's an opportunity elsewhere, we'll facilitate that and that's in fact the case here."
Rays: Niemann hopes to return this year
Right-hander Jeff Niemann took a big step forward in his return from a strained right rotator cuff on Friday, playing catch and throwing 35 times from 60 feet.
"Everything felt good," Niemann said. "It's a starting place for us, and we're going to keep going from here."
Niemann has been hit hard by injures this season, starting with a fractured lower right leg in May that kept him shelved for 3 1/2 months. He strained his rotator cuff on Sept. 1 in his first start off the disabled list.
On Friday, Niemann said the short-term plan was to play catch every other day and then eventually every day. But he does not know when he would be able to throw off a mound.
"That's still up in the air," Niemann said. "We're doing everything we can every day to get as much in as we can to get to that point."
The Rays set an American League single-season strikeout record on Friday with 1,275 after James Shields and two relievers combined for 11 strikeouts. The Yankees held the previous record with 1,266 in 2001.