Blue Jays-Yankees Preview

One of the few concerns facing the New York Yankees might be the

recent performance of Hiroki Kuroda.

While the Yankees look to complete a series sweep with an eighth

consecutive home win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Kuroda tries to

avoid a third straight subpar outing Wednesday afternoon.

Kuroda (8-7, 3.67 ERA) went 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA in seven starts

before he was roughed up for seven runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3

innings while not receiving a decision in a 10-8 win at Boston on

July 6. Kuroda then returned from the All-Star break Friday to give

up five runs and two homers in 7 1-3 innings while also not

factoring in the decision of a 6-5 win over Los Angeles.

Kuroda, however, has benefited from a potent lineup that’s

averaged 6.8 runs while he’s gone 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA in his last

four starts.

“You have to be resilient, because you have this great lineup

and they’ll probably back you up later in the game,” he told the

Yankees’ official website. “I have to keep pitching tough.”

Kuroda was not very tough on the Blue Jays when he allowed seven

runs and three homers over five innings of an 8-1 loss May 16 at

Rogers Centre.

Jose Bautista homered off Kuroda in that game but the

right-hander won’t have to face the Toronto slugger, who went on

the disabled list Tuesday after injuring his wrist in Monday’s 6-3

loss to New York.

Among the major league leaders with 27 home runs, Bautista did

not suffer any structural damage and hopes to return when eligible

to come off the DL.

Without their star, the Blue Jays (45-46) were held scoreless

through six innings by CC Sabathia and managed six hits in a 6-1

loss Tuesday.

“That’s a pretty big void anytime you lose a guy like

(Bautista), so we’ll adjust along the way and continue to put up a

good game plan,” manager John Farrell said.

Toronto has been outscored 42-20 during its seven-game skid at

Yankee Stadium. Edwin Encarnacion, however, has four doubles in the

series and is 8 for 16 in his last four games in the Bronx.

Andruw Jones hit a three-run homer and Derek Jeter had two hits

with an RBI on Tuesday for the AL East-leading Yankees (56-34), who

have won eight of 10 and are 35-13 since May 22.

“We’ve got a pretty good combination of things going right now,”

Jeter said.

Jeter is a lifetime .321 hitter against Toronto at home but is 3

for 23 with a home run versus scheduled starter Ricky Romero (8-5,

5.03), who has lost a career-high four straight starts.

After yielding 17 runs and nine walks in nine innings in

consecutive starts June 27 and July 2, Romero has given up three

runs on two homers over 12 innings of his last two, but the Blue

Jays failed to score in either game. He gave up a homer in six

innings of a 1-0 loss to Cleveland on Friday.

“You go through your ups and your downs in this game,” Romero

said. “You’ve got to be mentally strong and I feel like I’m doing

the best I can. I know I’ll continue to get better and lead this

team in the right direction.”

He is 3-4 with a 5.02 ERA in 10 starts versus New York, losing

his last two with a 6.17 ERA.