Preview of Yankees vs. Blue Jays

Nova pitching in a game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Nova pitching in a game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The Yankees (64-59) start a four-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays today at 1:05 p.m. That will be the first game of the doubleheader. The second game will start at 7:05 p.m.

The last time the Yankees played a doubleheader was on June 19 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, also at home, and they split those two games with the Bronx Bombers winning the afternoon contest. However, the Yankees do not at all resemble the team that that took the field that day.

Over their last eight games, the Yankees have won six out of their last eight games, which includes winning two out of three games at Fenway Park over the weekend. This includes the dramatic game on Sunday in which the Yankees won 9-6. Alex Rodriguez was hit on purpose  in the top of the second when the count was 3-0 after Ryan Dempster had tried to hit him earlier in the count. There is no place in the game for intentionally throwing a 90+ MPH fastball at a batter even if they in middle of a steroid controversy off of the field.

Joe Girardi, for good reason, argued with the home plate umpire like he has not before because the ump did not throw Dempster out of the game. The umpire did throw Girardi out of the game. This seemed to propel the Yankees offense as they scored two runs that inning. A Red Sox player was not hit in retaliation, but later in the game, A-Rod hit a homer to deep center, which was a great way to get back at Dempster. Brett Gardner would follow that with a big three-run triple that gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead.

It makes sense that CC Sabathia did not throw at a Red Sox player because he would have unfairly been thrown out of the game and the game was too important for the Yankees to win.

The Blue Jays come into the series having lost two out of their past three games to the Tampa Bay Rays. Going further back, Toronto has only won four out of their last 10 games. After receiving Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes in an offseason trade with the Miami Marlins the Blue Jays were expected to contend or even win the AL East. However, Reyes has been injured for much of the season and Johnson and Buehrle have disappointed, which has led to their 57-67 record.

The Yankees are currently 6.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card. That makes sweeping this four-game set against Toronto very important if they want to have a chance at leaping ahead of the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics.

A stat that has led to Toronto’s struggles has been that none of their starters for this series has an ERA below 4.29 for the season. For the Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki is only three hits away from 4,000 combined hits between the Orix Blue Wave in Japan, the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees. In an obvious pick, Alfonso Soriano was named the AL Player of the Week, on Monday, based on hitting .484, hitting five homers and driving in 18 runs in the previous week.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the series:

Today at 1:05 p.m. on YES

Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.99 ERA) vs RHP Esmil Rogers (3-7, 4.91 ERA)

Tonight at 7:05 p.m on MY9

Phil Hughes (4-12, 4.97 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (9-7, 4.29 ERA)

Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. on YES

Andy Pettitte (8-9, 4.39 ERA) or Adam Warren (1-2, 3.57 ERA) vs RHP R.A. Dickey (9-11, 4.49 ERA)

Thursday at 1:05 p.m. on YES

Andy Pettitte (8-9, 4.39 ERA) or Adam Warren (1-2, 3.57 ERA) vs. RHP JA Happ (3-2, 4.93 ERA)

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