THE BRONX - The New York Yankees will have to wait just a bit longer to square off against the Blue Jays in a crucial series.

A rain delay forced the cancellation of what would have been the first game of the series Thursday night. The series will begin Friday, with a doubleheader scheduled on Saturday.

First place in the American League East is on the line at Yankee Stadium, as the Yankees trail Toronto by 1.5 games entering the series.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says this is the team's biggest series since 2012, which was the last time they reached the postseason. He also praised young players Luis Severino and Greg Bird. Severino, 21, is scheduled pitch the series opener, while Bird, 22, has also played a big role this season.

"They have not seemed to be overwhelmed by the circumstances. I have not seen them, in a sense, try to do too much, and that's fairly unusual for two young men that age," says Girardi.