Blue Jays-Yankees Preview

The New York Yankees haven’t won back-to-back games in nearly

two weeks, and their AL East lead has shrunk in the process.

Losing Mark Teixeira just adds to their problems.

Phil Hughes looks to help the Yankees get back on track by

winning his sixth straight home decision Tuesday night when he

faces the Toronto Blue Jays and the struggling Ricky Romero.

New York was one out away from victory Monday before Rafael

Soriano gave up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the top of the

ninth inning. Though Derek Jeter tied it with a solo shot in the

bottom half, the Blue Jays went on to win 8-7 in 11 to snap their

eight-game losing streak in the Bronx.

The Yankees (74-54) have dropped five of seven and haven’t won

two straight since taking the first three games of their series

with Texas from Aug. 13-15. Their division lead is down to 3 1/2

over second-place Baltimore, which beat the White Sox on

Monday.

Making matters worse, Teixeira strained his left calf and says

he expects to miss at least a week, possibly two.

“He’s been such a backbone to our lineup,” said Nick Swisher,

who homered Monday and is 8 for 17 over his last four games. “For a

guy like that to be out of our lineup, that’s a big deal.”

New York hopes to get a boost from Hughes, who is 5-0 with a

1.67 ERA in his last six home starts.

Hughes (12-11, 4.15 ERA) hasn’t been nearly as sharp on the road

but pitched well Wednesday in Chicago, holding the White Sox to two

runs and five hits in seven innings of a 2-1 loss.

The right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.24 ERA over his last four

outings overall, including when he gave up a season high-tying

seven runs in four innings of a 10-7 loss at Toronto on Aug.

12.

Hughes didn’t earn a decision July 16 when he allowed two runs

in seven innings of New York’s 6-3 home win over the Blue Jays

(57-70), who ended an eight-game road losing streak and seven-game

overall skid Monday.

“These are those games, in the 11th inning on the road, you win

it. Sometimes if they go the other way they can almost feel like

two losses,” manager John Farrell said.

Toronto has lost 21 of 27 to go from two games over .500 to 13

under in less than a month, but there are few things more baffling

than the downfall of Romero (8-11, 5.63).

The left-hander hasn’t won since June 22, dropping 10 straight

decisions while compiling a 7.69 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Romero walked a career-worst eight and gave up seven hits while

allowing five runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to Detroit last

Tuesday.

“I definitely haven’t done my job this year,” Romero said. “I’m

going to continue to work hard and get ready for my next start.

Just try to end on a good note – that’s all I can do now. It’s been

a nightmare of a year.”

Romero has lost to the Yankees twice during his slump, giving up

six runs in six innings July 18 but holding New York to three runs

in seven innings of a 10-4 home defeat Aug. 10.

He’s dropped his last four starts versus New York with a 6.20

ERA.