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Hard-hitting Blue Jays to test Yankees this weekend

The Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion, left, is

The Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion, left, is greeted by teammate Troy Tulowitzki after hitting a two-run home run during the third inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Toronto. Photo Credit: AP / Fred Thornhill

Baseball's most prolific offense will be in the Bronx for a three-game series this weekend, and, believe it or not, it won't be the Yankees.

Despite a recent torrid stretch in which the Yankees scored 90 runs in 10 games, the Blue Jays have scored the most runs in the majors with 587 in 110 games. The Yankees are a distant second at 528 in 107 games.

The Blue Jays rank second in the majors with 147 home runs (the Yankees are third with 146). "They've got a powerful lineup," Brett Gardner said. "They're capable of scoring a lot of runs, putting up a lot of runs in a hurry."

Toronto leads the majors with 114 weighted runs created-plus (wRC+), a statistic that adjusts for parks and leagues and compares run production with the league average (100). From 2010-15, only Boston (117 in 2011, 115 in 2013) has posted more wRC+.

The AL East-leading Yankees (61-46) are 41/2 games in front of Toronto (58-52). The Blue Jays, however, have reason to be optimistic about their chances of winning the division. About one-quarter of the teams' remaining games are against each other, and the Jays were among the biggest winners of the non-waiver trade deadline.

Trades for lefthander David Price and slugging shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, a pair of five-time All-Stars, grabbed headlines, but the Jays also fortified their bullpen with Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins and bolstered their outfield with Ben Revere. The Yankees, whose only deadline acquisition was Dustin Ackley -- now on the disabled list -- literally and figuratively stood around and watched.

"They made a lot of good moves,'' said Nathan Eovaldi, who is scheduled to start Friday night's series opener for the Yankees. "They brought in a lot of key players. SportsCenter was always on in the clubhouse, so yeah, everyone was paying attention to it.''

Tulowitzki debuted on July 29, and the Blue Jays have won eight of nine since then, including three in a four-game set with Kansas City (63-44). The former Rockie is hitting .303 with two home runs since the trade.

"Tulowitzki obviously makes their offense even better than it was," Jacoby Ellsbury said.

With a bevy of offensive weapons -- highlighted by Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin and now Tulowitzki -- the Blue Jays have scored at least six runs in 50 of their 110 games. But a pitching staff that ranks 16th in baseball with a 3.93 ERA and 15th with 9.3 wins above replacement limited the team's success.

Price, who is scheduled to start Saturday, went 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 21 starts for Detroit before the Blue Jays acquired him. In his Toronto debut on Aug. 3, he allowed one run and three hits and struck out 11 in eight innings.

Toronto may be hot, but no one has fared better than the Yankees lately. Since July 1, they are an MLB-best 20-9. Since June 1, they are an AL-best 35-21.

That sets up the first of four remaining series (13 games) between two of baseball's best offenses.

"I like the position that we're in," Gardner said, "and we control our own destiny."


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