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New York Yankees: Preview of Bombers Crucial Series vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Ramy EljawharyContributor IISeptember 27, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 19: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees (L) slides safely past Toronto Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis at home plate in the first inning during the first game of a double header at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images
Jason Szenes/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays will now look to put a dent into the New York Yankees pursuit of the American League East title after splitting their four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles

However, it won’t be easy. 

The Yankees have won nine of 14 against Toronto this year, which includes a three-game sweep of the Jays last week in the Bronx.   

Undoubtedly, the long ball has been a big part of the Yankees success in 2012, as their 233 home runs rank number one in baseball. They’ve hit 14 homers against Toronto this year.  

Brandon Morrow (8-7, 3.28 ERA) will take the mound in game one for the Blue Jays.  He’s had three quality starts over his last five appearances and will look to rebound against the Yankees following his last outing in Tampa (4 IP, 5 ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 2 K). 

He has yet to pitch against the Yankees this season; however, in three appearances last season he went 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA, while registering 22 strikeouts over 20.2 innings. 

The Yankees will counter with Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.94 ERA).  Nova has struggled since entering the All-Star break with a 10-3 mark, as he’s managed to go just 2-4 with a bloated 6.99 ERA.  Despite his second-half difficulties, he was dominant (7.1 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) in his only appearance against the Jays (Aug. 11), a 5-2 victory in Toronto.

Rookie Chad Jenkins (0-2, 4.24 ERA) will oppose Hiroki Kuroda (14-11, 3.34 ERA) in game two.

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Jenkins has pitched strictly in relief since his recall from Double-A New Hampshire on August 5, but was effective against the Rays in his first start of the season (5 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). 

Kuroda will be making his third start against the Blue Jays.  He was lit up for seven runs—including three home runs over five innings on May 16—but shut down the Jays offense on July 18, allowing just four hits over seven innings. 

Outside of J.P Arencibia (5-for-6), Kelly Johnson (2-for-5) and Edwin Encarnacion (2-for-6), the rest of the Jays offense hasn't done much against Kuroda.

Ricky Romero (9-14, 5.76 ERA) will face Andy Pettitte (5-3, 2.71 ERA) in the third game of the series. 

At first glance Romero’s numbers against the Yankees this season (0-3, 4.15 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) appear ordinary, however the much-maligned lefty has actually pitched very well against New York this season.  After being roughed up in his first appearance, he’s since been able to string together three straight quality starts against the Yankees

The Jays have had difficulty with Pettitte over the years.  Despite taking a year off, the 40-year old didn’t miss a beat as he held the Jays to four hits over five innings just nine days ago. 

Overall, the Jays haven’t had much success against left-handed pitching this season.  Their 189 runs and .248 average against lefties rank tenth in the American League.

Henderson Alvarez (9-14, 4.91 ERA) will take on Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.10 ERA) in the series finale. 

New York will see Alvarez for the fourth time this year, but Sunday will mark the young right-hander’s first career start against the Yankees at the Rogers Centre.  He was solid in a 4-2 loss on Sept. 19 (7 IP 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K), and will look to build on that outing. 

Hughes will be making his sixth start against the Blue Jays.  Outside of one appearance where he gave up seven runs, he’s pitched well.  For the season he’s gone 2-2 with a 5.08 ERA, but has had trouble getting Edwin Encarnacion (6-for-14) and Moises Sierra (5-for-7) out. 

Fast Facts:

Against Toronto

Ichiro Suzuki is batting .357 with a home run, nine RBI, and four steals.

Derek Jeter is batting .353 with two homers and seven RBI.

Curtis Granderson is 7-for-43 (.163).

Alex Rodriguez is 3-for-26 (.115).

Against New York

Edwin Encarnacion is batting .326 with two homers and nine RBI.

J.P. Arencibia is batting .348 with two homers and four RBI.

Brett Lawrie is 2-for-28 (.071).

Colby Rasmus is 3-for-43 (.070).

Prediction

Yankees take three of four.

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