New York Yankees-Blue Jays Preview: Starters Look to Keep Rolling Versus Toronto
The Yankees' rotation has been on fire of late, turning in seven straight quality starts and allowing just eight earned runs over the past 50 innings for a 1.44 ERA.
That streak should be tested this weekend as the first-place Bombers battle the Blue Jays, one of the better offensive teams in baseball.
Let's take a look at the pitching matchups for this three-game series.
Friday, April 29: Freddy Garcia (1-0, 0.69) vs. Ricky Romero (1-3, 3.00)
Garcia became the first pitcher to begin his Yankee career with consecutive starts of at least six scoreless innings in 64 years when he silenced the Orioles over six frames on Sunday. The right-hander struck out seven and walked only two in that outing, but manager Joe Girardi pulled him way too early, costing Garcia the win.
Garcia may have some trouble keeping the hot streak going when he battles the Blue Jays, a team that has given him fits over the years. The 34-year-old is 6-5 with a 6.10 ERA in 14 career starts against Toronto.
The current roster hits .300 off him, led by Jose Molina's 8-for-20 (.400). Slugger Jose Bautista is 2-for-4 with a homer and two walks.
How many games will the Yanks win vs. the Jays this weekend?
Since a 13-3 thrashing of the Twins on April 1, the Jays haven't provided Romero with much run support. They've averaged just one run per game in losing his last four starts despite three quality outings, including a 10-strikeout effort against the Rays on Sunday.
The left-hander is 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA in six lifetime starts against the Yankees, including a 2-1 record and 6.00 mark in the Bronx.
It's strange that Girardi sat Derek Jeter on Thursday despite his 11-for-31 (.355) history against White Sox starter Edwin Jackson when he could've just waited a day and sat the captain against Romero, against whom Jeter is just 1-for-13 (.077).
Other Yankees who struggle against the southpaw include Jorge Posada (3-for-15, .200, 7 K's) and Robinson Cano (2-for-16, .125, 5 K's). I wouldn't be so quick to insert Andruw Jones into the lineup vs. the lefty either; he is just 1-for-9 (.111) off Romero.
Brett Gardner should continue turning things around; he's 4-for-9 (.444) with a homer, double and two walks against Romero. Girardi should bat him first in this series opener.
Saturday, April 30: A.J. Burnett (3-1, 3.52) vs. Kyle Drabek (2-0, 3.30)
Burnett's best start of the season came in his only loss, as he allowed just one run on three hits over eight strong innings in a 2-0 setback to the White Sox on Monday.
The former Blue Jay is 2-4 with a 5.60 ERA over nine career starts against his old club, yielding three runs (two earned) on six hits and five walks through 5.1 innings at Toronto on April 19.
Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are each 5-for-11 (.455) with multiple homers off Burnett, but Corey Patterson is just 4-for-26 (.154).
In that same April 19 contest, Drabek struggled against the Yankees, surrendering four runs with four walks over 5.1 innings. He bounced back in his next start, though, giving up three runs on five hits through six frames at Texas.
The young right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two lifetime starts vs. New York, but he has yet to pitch at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday, May 1: Ivan Nova (1-2, 5.82) vs. Jesse Litsch (2-1, 3.86)
After a rough start to the season, Nova pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in his career on Tuesday, limiting the White Sox to one run on five hits over 6.1 innings.
He is 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA in three appearances against the Blue Jays and served up a walk-off RBI double to Travis Snider in the 10th inning, working out of the bullpen on April 19 in Toronto. Luckily for Nova, Snider has since been sent down to the minors.
Litsch allowed three runs over six innings to beat Texas on Tuesday in what was his third good start of the season. The right-hander will be making his fourth consecutive outing on the road Sunday at Yankee Stadium, where he is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two career starts.
Overall, though, Litsch is 1-4 with a 5.72 mark in six appearances against New York. Alex Rodriguez is 4-for-13 (.308) off him, and Gardner is 3-for-5 (.600) with a triple and three RBI. Nick Swisher is just 1-for-9 (.111).
Follow me on Twitter at @ JordanHarrison.
Jordan is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists.
He can be reached at email@example.com
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