Three day games were already played this fine Thursday with five games on tap tonight.

Surprisingly, the most interesting match up, at least in terms of playoff implications, involves the two teams currently holding onto the two Wild Card spots in the American League: the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics.

Fresh off the Bartolo Colon 50-game suspension, the Athletics will turn to Tyson Ross on the mound against the Rays’ Alex Cobb. A win tonight pulls the Rays to within 2 1/2 games of the Yankees for the AL East title. You don’t typically see a lot of three game series starting on a Thursday, but this is the case since Tropicana Field is being used for a Republican National Convention party on Sunday.

Everything’s going right for the Rays lately, even the manager is getting pied.

The Atlanta Braves start a four game set tonight against the San Francisco Giants after losing two of three against the Washington Nationals. Tommy Hanson makes his second start since returning from the DL. Barry Zito makes his second start this year against the Braves. In his previous appearance on July 17th, Zito shut down the Braves over seven innings, striking out four.

Other notable games tonight:

The Los Angeles Angels (C.J. Wilson) look for their first sweep of the Red Sox (Franklin Morales) since 2008. This could prove to be a tough assignment with word that Albert Pujols will be out of the lineup.

And the rest around MLB:

David Ortiz may return to the Boston lineup Friday. [Twitter]

The Cincinnati Reds have sent Devin Mesoraco to Triple-A. [Cincinnati.com]

The Pittsburgh Pirates have released reliever Juan Cruz. [Piratesprospects.com]

In case you missed it, Joe Girardi yelled at a heckler during his media scrum Wednesday night. [theScore]

Twins outfielder Denard Span will return to the lineup Thursday after missing time with a sore clavicle. Span also refused to take an MRI because he’s claustrophobic. [Twitter]