Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
The New York Yankees won their first series after the All-Star break taking two of three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Bombers (54-34) maintain an eight-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. Their next opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays, also resides in baseball’s strongest division.
The Blue Jays (45-44) find themselves 9.5 games behind the Yankees, and tied with the Boston Red Sox in last place in the AL East. However, the Blue Jays are only 1.5 games back in the wide-open wild card race.
The Jays are led on offense by Jose Bautista (2nd in MLB with 27 home runs) and Edwin Encarnacion, who just signed a three-year/$27 million extension with a $10 million club option for the 2016 season.
On the mound the Blue Jays have been stricken by injuries throughout the season. Brandon Morrow is on the disabled list after suffering a left oblique injury. He threw his first bullpen session on July 13 and could be back sometime in August. Their closer coming out of spring training, Sergio Santos was just ruled out for the rest of the season and will undergo shoulder surgery in the near future.
The Blue Jays will send Henderson Alvarez to the hill for the series opener this evening. Alvarez (5-7, 4.36 ERA) was knocked around in his last start by the Kansas City Royals (5.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 2 BB and 4 K). Brett Cecil gets the middle game of the series. Cecil (2-1, 6.75 ERA) was also battered in his last start against the Chicago White Sox (4.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 3 BB and 5 K). In the series finale, the Blue Jays will lean on lefty Ricky Romero. Romero (8-5, 5.03 ERA) is in rut, losing four straight games, though he has pitched better in his last two outings.
The Yankees continue to use the long ball to pace their offense. They lead the Major Leagues with 142 dingers on the season putting them on pace for 261 in 162 games. Curtis Granderson leads the team with 25 home runs and Robinson Cano, who is enjoying an 18-game hitting streak, has 21 homers.
On the mound, the Yankees will get Phil Hughes‘ first start of the second half and CC Sabathia will work tomorrow’s game. It will be Sabathia’s first start since he was placed on the disabled list with a strained groin. Hiroki Kuroda‘s spot is next in the rotation, though the Yankees website does not list a starter for Wednesday’s game as of yet.
Below is a chart of the team leaders among qualifiers for each club heading into the series as well as one with the probable starters.
The series, like any other at this time in the season, is important for both teams. The Blue Jays are trying to withstand the injuries to their pitching staff and look to gain more ground in the AL Wild Card race. While the Yankees have a commanding lead in the division, they do not want to let up with over 70 games left in the season. The Yankees are also in the midst of stretch in which they play thirteen games in thirteen days. After the Blue Jays series, the Yankees head west for four games against the Oakland A’s and then three games versus the Seattle Mariners.
The Yanks Go Yard Podcast Preview Series will pick back up on Thursday for the Oakland series. Send your questions to @Rickinater555 on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page and post questions on our wall.