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Gut-check time for Twins entering critical series with Blue Jays

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David Price has pretty much owned the Twins over the past two seasons.

The former Tigers ace, traded to the Blue Jays last week, will make his Toronto debut Monday afternoon in a critical series opener against the Twins. Minnesota (54-50) is one game ahead of Toronto and Baltimore for the second wild card seed in the American League playoff race.

Tampa Bay, Texas, Detroit and Chicago are also within striking distance.

According to FOX Sports North, Price is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA against the Twins this season and 6-1 with a 1.87 ERA against them the past two seasons.

Perhaps, though, the Blue Jays are just what the Twins need to bust out of a second-half slump that has seen just five wins in 15 games. The Twins took two of three from Toronto in May and have won six of eight against them dating back to last season.

The Toronto Sun is taking the Twins seriously. The newspaper north of the border says the Twins have proved they're for real and even though a trip to the playoffs this year is yet to be determined, "the Twins have drafted and developed an outstanding core of young players who are going to be a force for the next few seasons."

A few of those young players are red-hot, including Miguel Sano, Aaron Hicks and Eddie Rosario. Sano is hitting .284 with an OPS (slugging percentage plus on-base percentage) of .929, Rosario has nine extra-base hits since the All-Star break and Hicks is hitting .341 with four homers and 16 RBI over the last month.

Phil Rogers from MLB.com wrote that the additions of Price and All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki give the Blue Jays one of the best rosters in MLB history for a 54-52 team. Rogers, at the same time, isn't totally down and out on the Twins.

"They still might turn out to be the best story in the Majors this season. But they're 5-10 since the All-Star break -- a big factor in allowing teams like the Rays and White Sox to keep the light on.

The Twins will play four games in Toronto. That's a whole lot of Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Tulowitzki.

We'll better be able to provide an extended forecast on the Twins when the series is over. These games count the same as the ones played in April and May, but they're starting to feel a lot more important."

Not only is the series in Toronto critical for the playoff race, it's also a bit of a reunion for the Twins. Former Minnesota players Chris Colabello, Ben Revere, R.A. Dickey, Liam Hendriks and LaTroy Hawkins play for Toronto.

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