The Blue Jays will look to turn around a miserable road trip in Houston on Friday.
Toronto has dropped six of seven on a trek through St. Petersburg and New York and heads into Friday's series opener at Minute Maid Park a season-low 14 games below .500.
Although the playoffs have long been in doubt for the Blue Jays, a series of injuries have seemingly put the proverbial nail in the coffin. The Blue Jays have all three Triple-A starters in their outfield, and are missing a handful of pitchers in both the rotation and bullpen.
Adding to their injuries woes Thursday was the addition of Maicer Izturis to the 15-day DL.
"You deal with it," Toronto skipper John Gibbons said. "It seems to be happening in bunches lately, but that's part of it. Everybody goes through that, and you have to show up the next day and play. You have no choice."
Although it's been a tough stretch, it has paved the way for some younger players to prove their worth.
"You don't know what extended period of time it's going to be, but getting to the big leagues, some guys never get the opportunity, so take advantage of it," Gibbons said."
The Astros, the youngest team in the league, are all too familiar with that position. With a stretch of 20 games in 20 days beginning Friday, they'll see how well prepared they are for the final stretch drive.
"It's what we worked so hard to prepare ourselves for, and hopefully we'll be ready for it," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "At this point in the season, it's really important to make sure you're taking care of your body and doing everything you can to get as much rest and recovery time as possible."
Taking the mound for the Astros will be Jordan Lyles, who took a no-decision in his only start vs. the Blue Jays after allowing four runs on nine hits in five innings.
Opposing Lyles will be Todd Redmond, who takes a solid 3.28 ERA over seven starts into Friday's outing. He has allowed just one earned run over his last 11 1/3 innings.
Astros: Mistakes part of the process
With 14 rookies on the active roster, the Astros know that blunders are part of the growing pains the club has to endure.
Take, for example, catcher Max Stassi, who debuted Tuesday with a 2-for-3 effort, but committed a baserunning mistake.
"It's cool because there's so many young guys, and we can all go through the same thing at the same time," said fellow rookie Kevin Chapman. "We can all share that with each other. Stuff like last night when [Stassi] got caught off the base. It stunk because it was a really close game, but it's funny that it happened on his first time on base. I gave him a hard time about that, but it's all part of the learning curve."
Astros manager Bo Porter is well aware that the club is building up its younger players, so mistakes won't stop the club from helping them establish themselves as big leaguers.
"A lot of these guys are smart, they realize that this year is a great opportunity for a young guy to come into the Majors in an organization where the opportunity is going to be given to you," Porter said. "You're going to have some time to fail, and you're going to continue to get opportunities."
Blue Jays: Melky likely done for season
Melky Cabrera has likely played his last game of the season.
The Blue Jays outfielder has dealt with a series of leg issues all year, and it would appear that an issue with his meniscus in his left knee will keep him off the field for the rest of 2013.
Cabrera, 29, does not require surgery for his injury, but he does need an extended period of rest that would take him into the offseason.
"I don't know that for sure, but probably not," Gibbons said when asked if Cabrera might return this season.
If Cabrera is officially shut down for the season, he would join right-hander Brandon Morrow and possibly Josh Johnson as players who won't be back this season.
• The Blue Jays took three of four from the Astros in Toronto in their only meeting so far this season.
• Both the Astros and Blue Jays are coming off series against division rivals that have had their number this season. Houston was swept by the Rangers, lowering their record to 2-14 against Texas in 2013. Toronto was swept by Yankees in a four-game series and are 1-12 against them this season.