The Philadelphia Phillies try to bounce back from a loss when they take on the host Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game interleague series on Friday night. The first pitch is set for 7:37 p.m. ET at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla.
The Phillies are coming off a 5-1 setback against the Washington Nationals on Thursday that snapped Philadelphia’s two-game winning streak. With the loss, the Phillies dropped to 20-18, and they are in second place in the NL East, 1½ games behind the first-place New York Mets.
Toronto has won three straight, sweeping a series on the road against the Atlanta Braves. The Blue Jays are 20-16 and in second place in the AL East, 1½ games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, and a half-game ahead of the third-place New York Yankees.
The MLB odds have the Blue Jays with a moneyline of -151, while the Phillies are at +136. The over/under for the opener is set at 10½ runs.
The Phillies can’t afford too many losses with the Mets on a seven-game winning streak. Philadelphia will have right-hander Vince Velasquez on the mound. He makes his fifth start and eighth appearance.
Velasquez is 1-0 with a 4.18 ERA and hoping to follow up on a pair of solid starts in which he allowed just one run in each. Against Atlanta on Saturday, Velasquez went 5 1/3 innings and surrendered just two hits, including a solo home run, while striking out six and walking three. The 28-year-old has 30 strikeouts and 16 walks.
The Phillies took a hit, with J.T. Realmuto landing on the COVID-19-related injured list. The catcher had hits in his last four games and leads the Phillies with a .314 batting average.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius has a team-high 22 RBI, recording four doubles and four home runs while batting .229. First baseman Rhys Hoskins had team-high totals in doubles (nine), home runs (eight), and hits (34), driving in 20 runs and tying for the team lead with 24 runs scored.
Outfielder Bryce Harper had five hits in the three-game series against the Nationals, including a home run to give him seven. He’s driven in 11 runs and scored 24 times in 30 games.
One of the hottest hitters is Toronto shortstop Marcus Semien, who has a 12-game hitting streak. Semien has five doubles, eight home runs, and 20 RBI, batting .271.
Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is batting .307 and is one of three Blue Jays with a team-best eight home runs. He’s batted in 26 runs and scored 25 times.
Shortstop Bo Bichette is the third player with eight home runs, accumulating a team-high 41 hits, including eight doubles while driving in 23 runs and scoring a team-high 31. He had a go-ahead, two-run double in the ninth inning of Thursday’s win over Atlanta, helping the Blue Jays come from behind for the victory.
“I think regardless of how we’re playing we should feel like we have a chance,” Bichette said after the victory. “We can do special things on offense. I’ve never seen this team give up.”
Toronto will have Steven Matz on the mound, with the left-hander coming in with a 5-2 record and 4.86 ERA. Matz has 37 strikeouts and 10 walks in his seven starts.
Matz went five innings in his last start on Saturday at Houston, allowing three earned runs on eight hits, including a home run, while striking out four and walking none. He picked up the win in an 8-4 victory for the Blue Jays.
Toronto Stays Hot
The Blue Jays are playing with a lot of confidence, and they have Matz going for a sixth win on the season. Philadelphia has been a bit inconsistent offensively, and it could have some trouble against Matz in the opener.
When doing your MLB betting, go with Toronto to get the series-opening win.