An electric atmosphere is expected this weekend at Rogers Centre that should bring back memories of the early 1990s – the last time the Toronto Blue Jays were the talk of town.
All three games of this series against the New York Yankees are sold out, and the Blue Jays can establish a franchise record with their 12th straight victory when they send David Price to the mound in Friday night’s matchup with first place in the AL East on the line.
Toronto (64-52) leads New York by one-half game after becoming the first team since the 1954 Cleveland Indians to post two win streaks of at least 11 games. Baseball’s highest scoring team averages 5.3 runs, with the Yankees second at 4.8.
Article continues below ...
”Our guys are feeling good,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ”We’re confident now. We’re on a nice little roll and it means something.”
The Blue Jays own baseball’s longest postseason drought, having failed to reach the playoffs since winning their second straight title in 1993.
The Yankees (62-51) have already been victimized by them during this streak, getting outscored 10-1 last weekend in a three-game sweep in the Bronx. New York failed to score in the final 26 innings of that series and dropped to 2-7 versus Toronto.
"We didn’t play well against them at home, they swept us, and it’ll be tough," Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. "I know it’ll be a big series, and their fans are pretty rowdy up there, I’m sure it’ll be a great atmosphere and we’re looking forward to the challenge."
Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson combined for four of Toronto’s six homers in that set. The Blue Jays have hit a major league-best 22 in 12 games this month and lead the AL with 157.
Price (11-4, 2.35 ERA) cruised to a 6-0 victory in Saturday’s middle game with seven strikeouts over seven innings in his second start with the Blue Jays. He had been pounded for eight runs while failing to pitch past the third inning in his previous two outings versus the Yankees.
Yankees stars Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira haven’t fared well against him with averages of .239 and .200, respectively. Gardner’s .136 average against Price left him out of last Saturday’s lineup while Brian McCann went 0 for 3 versus Price to drop to 9 for 19 with three homers in the matchup.
The left-hander is 8-0 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 starts at Rogers Centre, winning his Toronto debut there Aug. 3 over Minnesota.
Price’s mound opponent once again will be Ivan Nova (4-4, 3.52), who was charged with four runs over 5 1-3 innings to drop to 1-2 with a 6.94 ERA in his last five starts versus the Blue Jays.
Edwin Encarnacion is 8 for 24 with a homer against the right-hander and Bautista is 5 for 15 with one home run.
The Blue Jays are hoping Encarnacion returns after missing four games with a jammed left middle finger. Troy Tulowitzki will be back in the lineup after he was rested in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over Oakland.
New York ended a five-game slide in which it totaled six runs by winning 8-6 at Cleveland on Thursday. Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 4 after entering in a 0-for-19 slump, Gardner was 3 for 4 with three RBIs and McCann had a three-run homer.
"Obviously to be able to score eight runs and get some guys going was important," manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez is in a 2-for-25 slump and is batting .156 against Toronto. Teixeira is hitting .214 in the season series and Gardner and Beltran are each at .200.