Friday night's matchup between the Rays and Blue Jays features two teams coming from near opposite places in the baseball world.
Both sides have gone through a transformation over the past month, virtually switching roles in the American League East.
The slumping Blue Jays are 9-17 since June 11, watching their five-game lead in the division evaporate as they've fallen to second place behind the Orioles.
The Rays, on the other hand, had trailed the Blue Jays by as many as 15 games, but they have emerged as the best team in the AL East over that same span.
"Huge. We want to win series, but I want to take all three," said Rays right-hander Chris Archer, who will make the start in the series opener on Friday. "And it starts with game one. I'm happy that I'm getting the ball, and I'm happy that our team is playing so well defensively and offensively."
Archer put up his longest outing of the season in his last start against Detroit on Saturday, going 8 1/3 innings while allowing six hits and two earned runs to improve to 5-5 on the season.
"It was my best game so far [this season]," said Archer, who is 2-0 in five career starts against the Blue Jays. "I gave up two solo home runs. ... That's a good hitting team. They have a lot of power, and I think any pitcher in this league would be OK with giving up two solo homers against them. So, I'm not going to beat myself up over the ninth inning too much. But there is room to grow. I'm going to continue to execute pitches better."
In their final series before the All-Star break, the Blue Jays will send Mark Buehrle, whose 17 seconds in between pitches ranks No. 1 in the Majors, against Archer, who with a 25.9 seconds pace, is the third-slowest.
Buehrle had an electric start to 2014, but he has lost his last five decisions, although he has a 3.60 ERA during that span. He hasn't won since June 1, but that's largely due to a lack of run support. When the Blue Jays score two runs or more, he's 10-1; when they score one or fewer, he is 0-5.
Blue Jays: Lind out with foot fracture
The Blue Jays announced on Wednesday that first baseman Adam Lind has a non-displaced fracture in his right foot.
Lind said the doctors expect him to be out for the next six to eight weeks. That would keep him out of the lineup until at least the end of August, which is yet another crushing blow to a team that is already without the services of Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie.
The injury was originally sustained when Lind fouled a ball off his foot during a series in Baltimore on June 14. He was diagnosed with a bone bruise and attempted to play through the pain before eventually undergoing an MRI.
The loss of Lind leaves the Blue Jays without a natural first baseman on their roster. Jose Bautista has been playing the position while Encarnacion is on the disabled list with a strained quad, but he's expected to eventually move back to right field.
Rays: Escobar to return Friday
The Rays are expecting shortstop Yunel Escobar to return from the disabled list for Friday's opener against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.
Escobar has been on the DL with right shoulder soreness, and played two games in a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Charlotte on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Did well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Three at-bats today, did play shortstop again -- he wanted to play shortstop. Sounds like he's ready to go Friday."
• Toronto's Colby Rasmus is no longer an everyday starter in center field, as he'll sit vs. left-handed pitchers. Darin Mastroianni appears to be the leading candidate for the other half of the platoon.
• Rays outfielder David DeJesus, who is on the disabled list with an avulsion fracture on his left ring finger, will have X-rays taken on Friday, at which point he will be reevaluated.
• Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said on Wednesday afternoon -- the day after he made his first start of the year following offseason right elbow surgery -- that his pitching elbow felt completely fine. Hellickson will not make another start before the All-Star break.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.