Twins-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins are done playing games that have any playoff implications.

They'll both be done with the season following a three-game series that starts Monday night at Rogers Centre.

After splitting a four-game set with the New York Yankees, who are tied with Baltimore for the AL East lead, the Blue Jays (70-89) are closing what's been a rough season. Even if it sweeps this series, Toronto would finish with its fewest victories since going 67-94 in 2004.

Toronto gave away a 5-1 lead in Sunday's 9-6 loss, its 18th in 28 games in September.

The Blue Jays, though, might head into this series with some confidence with a 13-6 record against Minnesota since the start of 2010 after splitting a four-game series at Target Field in May.

Toronto is expected to open this series with Aaron Laffey (4-6, 4.52 ERA) on the hill.

The left-hander has been bothered by a sore back, but manager John Farrell said Saturday that he's "working through" it.

If Laffey makes the start, it will be his final appearance in a busy season. He's at 159 1-3 innings between Triple-A and Toronto after logging 57 total in 2011.

"Honestly, he's running on fumes. His stuff is not as sharp and crisp, but you can't take anything away from what he did tonight," Farrell said after Laffey threw five innings of five-hit ball in Tuesday's 4-0 road win over the Orioles.

The southpaw was 0-4 with a 5.45 ERA in his previous eight appearances, which included two out of bullpen.

Laffey will get his first look at the Twins (66-93) this season. He's 5-2 with a 4.24 ERA in nine starts versus Minnesota.

The Twins open this series after dropping two of three to AL Central-leading Detroit, which ruined Minnesota's home finale Sunday with a 2-1 victory.

Regardless of how this series pans out, the Twins will finish with fewer than 70 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-00.

Winner of eight of 13 on the road, Minnesota will give the ball to Esmerling Vasquez (0-2, 5.88) on Monday.

The right-hander is looking to build off his best outing of the season, six innings of two-run ball in Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Yankees. Vasquez gave up 15 runs in his previous four starts after getting called up from Triple-A Rochester on Sept. 1.

"I tried to throw strikes and put everything together, and I feel pretty good for that," Vasquez told the Twins' official website.

This will be his first start and second appearance against Toronto.

The Twins don't have much to play for in this series other than to make a good impression on management and build some momentum heading into the offseason, but Joe Mauer has a chance to win a fourth AL batting crown as he's hitting .323 after Sunday's 3-for-4 effort.

Mauer is 9 for 22 with a homer off Laffey, who might not have to face slugger Josh Willingham, who has missed the last five games with a sprained left shoulder.

Edwin Encarnacion, third in the AL with 42 homers, is questionable for Toronto after leaving Sunday's game in the seventh inning with back tightness.

The Blue Jays have won 16 of 22 at home against Minnesota. These clubs last played in Toronto in their first series of 2011.

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