Yankees-Blue Jays Preview
Sabathia goes for his 20th win while Rivera could be in line to match the league's all-time saves record as the Yankees open a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
New York (90-58) is going for its sixth straight win over Toronto as it tries to further separate itself from second-place Boston.
The Yankees are certainly sending the right pitcher to the mound in Sabathia (19-8, 2.93 ERA), who has beaten the Blue Jays three times this season and seven straight overall.
Sabathia is trying to become the first Yankees pitcher to win 20 games in back-to-back seasons since Tommy John in 1979-80. He failed in his first try after giving up one run, walking four and striking out five in six innings of a 6-0 loss to Los Angeles last Saturday.
The left-hander picked up his 19th win against Toronto on Sept. 4, allowing two runs while striking out 10 in 7 1-3 innings of a 9-3 victory.
Sabathia doesn't figure to have to wait too long for win No. 20. The Blue Jays have hit .195 off him this season, managing seven runs and 17 hits in 24 1-3 innings. He's also won his last three starts at Rogers Center, posting a 1.48 ERA.
He and the Yankees lineup will try to put Rivera in position to tie Trevor Hoffman's all-time mark after he didn't get an opportunity in a 2-1, 12-inning loss to Seattle on Wednesday.
Rivera recorded his 600th career save the night before.
"We lost a lot of one-run games on this trip and that's the hard part," manager Joe Girardi said. "We lot three games by one run each. But our club has been pretty good to win two out of three. You've got to keep doing that."
While the Yankees couldn't muster much offense Wednesday, they expect to have Alex Rodriguez back in the lineup Friday after he missed the last five games with a thumb injury.
Rodriguez is batting .200 (6 for 30) with 12 strikeouts against the Blue Jays this season, and he's only 1 for 15 against Dustin McGowan (0-0, 9.00), who takes the mound Friday.
Toronto (75-74) has helped New York over the last two weeks, winning four of six against Boston. The Blue Jays and Red Sox split a two-game set this week, with Toronto rallying for a 5-4 win Wednesday.
Toronto scored three times in the eighth, taking the lead on Adam Loewen's two-run single.
Loewen, who broke into the majors as a pitcher before transitioning to a hitter, is 5 for 14 with one homer and three RBIs since his call-up.
"Amazing. It's crazy," Ricky Romero, who picked up the win Wednesday, said. "Just to make that transition from a pitcher to a position player, you never really see that and he's done a tremendous job for us."
McGowan will try to help the Blue Jays end their losing streak against the Yankees as he takes the place of Brett Cecil, who was scratched due to a cut on his left index finger.
McGowan is appearing for the third time since coming off the disabled list following shoulder surgery. The right-hander, who hadn't pitched in the majors since 2008 due to a variety of injuries, made his first start Sunday as he gave up four runs and walked five in three innings of a 6-5 win over Baltimore.