Well, for those fans that were ready to leave the New York Yankees for dead at the All-Star Break, they may have to take a step back and reevaluate their thoughts. Since the second half has officially started, the Yankees swept the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series, then took three of four from the Texas Rangers, making the Bombers 6-1 since entering the break at an even 47-47.
Tonight, the Yankees open a crucial three-game set with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. Since the Bombers have recently caught fire, they’ve also caught and tied the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East, and are also tied with the Jays for the second and final AL Wild Card spot. To open the series, Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 3.88 ERA) will toe the rubber, looking to continue his performance as the ace of this battered and patchwork assembled Yankees’ starting rotation. Over his last three outings, Kuroda has posted a 2.79 ERA, and held opponents to a .188 batting average against. Unlike the past two seasons, the Yankees can ill-afford to have Kuroda run out of gas as August and September approach. In his lasting outing against the Jays on June 25th, he pitched 6 1/3 innings, and allowed 3 earned runs.
Opposing Kuroda will be lefty Mark Buehrle. The crafty veteran has his a wall since starting out as one of the best pitchers in baseball during the first half. Buehrle hasn’t won a game since June 1st, and he struggles even more with the Yankees. In his career against the Bronx Bombers, he’s 1-11, with a 5.81 ERA in 18 career starts. In his last outing against New York, he received a no-decision after pitching 6 2/3 innings, and allowing 4 earned runs, in what was eventually a Blue Jays’ victory.