The Blue Jays are clinging to their playoff hopes, one game over .500 and 5 1/2 games back in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot, and manager John Gibbons is still optimistic that his team can climb back into the race.
"Yeah, we're up against a big headwind, but yeah, you have to stay optimistic. Why wouldn't you? What, are you going to quit?" Gibbons said.
Mark Buehrle will take the mound in Friday's opener against the Yankees, a statement that traditionally does not end well for him.
For whatever reason, Buehrle has not been able to figure out the Yankees at all in his career, with either the White Sox or Blue Jays. In 19 career starts against New York, he is 1-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a .316 opponent's average.
Buehrle maintains that he feels as good as he has in years despite his recent struggles overall. He sports a 4.80 ERA over his last three starts, and although it is not entirely his fault, he has won just two games since June 1.
The Yankees, who hold the second spot in the AL East ahead of the third-place Blue Jays, will counter with left-hander Chris Capuano, who is still searching for his first win in pinstripes and coming off a quality start against the White Sox of six innings and three runs.
Capuano is 0-2 with a 4.21 ERA with the Yankees. He faced the Blue Jays in his first start with New York on July 26, taking a no-decision after allowing two runs in six innings.
Yankees: Tanaka uses entire repertoire in simulated game
The catcher's glove popped with good velocity as Masahiro Tanaka worked off the mound on a sunny Thursday morning at Comerica Park, and while the hurler's stuff showed some rust, the Yankees came away with excitement about what might be around the corner.
Tanaka threw 49 pitches in a three-inning simulated game, using his full repertoire to Brendan Ryan, who rode the early bus and batted from both sides of the plate. Ryan said that he thinks the rehabbing right-hander looks close to big league ready.
"The pinpoint [command] is probably going to be the last thing to come. I would expect that to be there pretty soon," Ryan said. "He can go out there and get outs now, just on stuff alone. The sooner the better. I'd say it was a pretty good day."
Tanaka said that he has been feeling only normal soreness, another good sign as he attempts to avoid Tommy John surgery. He expressed dissatisfaction with some of his pitches, having thrown his slider, splitter, curveball and both fastballs in the session.
"I think some of the balls I am throwing, I'm still not able to hit my spots," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "The rust is still there, so I still have some work to do to get back to game-ready."
The Yankees are bringing Tanaka along with the hopes of having him make starts in September, and manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka will need at least two more sessions against hitters before that can happen. The Yankees want to build Tanaka to at least 75 pitches.
• Jacoby Ellsbury stole two bases in Wednesday's 8-4 win over the Tigers and has been successful in each of his last 13 attempts since July 18. He has 37 stolen bases this season, ranked second in the AL behind the Astros' Jose Altuve (49).
• Danny Valencia belted his first homer in a Blue Jays uniform on Wednesday, a three-run, pinch-hit blast in the seventh inning of Toronto's 5-2 win over the Red Sox.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.