Yankees-Blue Jays Preview

The New York Yankees have their share of concerns as they gear

up for what they hope will be their 15th playoff berth in 16

seasons.

Another poor start from ace CC Sabathia would only add to their

worries.

The slumping Yankees look to lock up that postseason spot and

possibly take over first place in the AL East on Tuesday night

against the surging Toronto Blue Jays.

Needing a win in any of their remaining six games to clinch a

playoff berth, the Yankees lost for the fifth time in six contests

Monday as A.J. Burnett’s struggles continued. Vernon Wells hit a

three-run homer and John Buck added a solo shot off Burnett,

leading Toronto to a 7-5 victory.

Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer and Curtis Granderson had a

two-run drive for New York (93-64), which remained one-half game

behind East-leading Tampa Bay, a 4-0 loser to Baltimore. The wild

card-leading Yankees, losers of 14 of 21 since winning a

season-high eight straight, can also reach the postseason if Boston

loses one of its final six games.

“Hopefully it means we’re getting it out of our system,”

Teixeira said. “We haven’t played good baseball. That’s starters,

that’s offense, defense, it’s everything. Let’s get this out of our

system and hopefully we do make the playoffs and have a chance to

win a World Series.”

With Burnett pitching poorly and Andy Pettitte coming off a

recent groin injury, New York needs Sabathia (20-7, 3.26 ERA) to be

the dominant pitcher he’s been most of this season. The big

left-hander leads the AL in wins and remains a top contender for

the Cy Young Award despite having problems of his own lately.

Sabathia is 3-2 with a 4.32 ERA in his last six starts, and is

coming off one of his worst outings of the season.

In his first appearance after reaching 20 wins for the first

time, Sabathia took a 3-1 lead into the sixth Thursday against

Tampa Bay before falling apart. He was charged with a season-high

seven runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 10-3 loss.

“I’m supposed to be able to go out there and put up zeros. I

wasn’t able to do that in the sixth,” Sabathia said. ”It’s

disappointing, especially after the guys had scratched out a lead

for me.”

Sabathia has won three straight and five of his last six starts

against Toronto. He is 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA at Rogers Centre.

None of the current Blue Jays have had much success against the

Yankees ace, with only Edwin Encarnacion (3 for 10) hitting better

than .250. Wells is bating .448 with four homers and 12 RBIs at

home against New York this year, but is 6 for 31 with two homers

lifetime off Sabathia.

Two more homers helped the Blue Jays (81-75) win their fifth

straight, one shy of a season high. Toronto has a major league-best

243 home runs, one off the team record set in 2000.

“That was a big game for us,” manager Cito Gaston said. “No

matter what happens the rest of the way out, this team has done a

great job this year.”

The Blue Jays need a victory in either of the next two games to

win a season series from the Yankees for the first time since

2000.

Kyle Drabek (0-2, 4.91) will try to help Toronto achieve that as

he makes his third start. The rookie right-hander gave up three

runs and four hits – two homers – over five innings of a 6-3 loss

to Seattle on Wednesday in his home debut.