Yankees-Blue Jays Preview

The New York Yankees have somehow split the first two games of

this series despite scoring in one of their 18 innings at the

plate.

That production will likely have to improve over the final 10

games for them to reach the playoffs, and they have already lost

once to Toronto Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond heading into

Thursday night’s series finale at Rogers Centre.

New York (80-72) was blanked for the first 16 innings in this

set before breaking through for four runs in the eighth Wednesday

to rally from a three-run deficit for a 4-3 victory that ended a

four-game slide.

“We hadn’t shaken hands for a while, so it was kind of nice,”

manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees and Kansas City are 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the

AL’s second wild-card spot. Baltimore is one game back and

Cleveland is one-half game out.

Girardi used Mariano Rivera for a four-out save – his 44th of

the year – after former Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells’ two-run

double capped the eighth-inning rally.

“Every time you win, it’s a great feeling,” Rivera said.

“Hopefully we come back tomorrow and wrap it up.”

Numerous hitters continue to fare poorly. The most notable is

Alex Rodriguez, who is 1 for 18 over his last six games while

dealing with a strained right calf and a sore left hamstring.

Ichiro Suzuki did not start Wednesday and has three hits in his

last 23 at-bats, Curtis Granderson is 8 for 36 with 13 strikeouts

on this 10-game trip and Robinson Cano has three singles and no

walks in his last 16 at-bats.

The Yankees will get another look at Redmond (3-2, 4.10 ERA), a

rookie who is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his last three outings. That

run began when he limited New York to two runs over 5 2-3 innings

in a 7-2 home win Aug. 28.

Redmond yielded one run over a career-high 6 1-3 innings last

Friday in a 5-3 defeat to Baltimore, striking out seven with no

walks.

“He threw a whale of a game,” manager John Gibbons said.

Girardi said last month that Redmond has a deceptive arm angle

and the manager will once again use Hiroki Kuroda (11-11, 3.13) to

oppose the Toronto right-hander.

Kuroda surrendered seven runs over five innings in that outing

after going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA over his previous five starts

against the Blue Jays. Last month’s loss is part of a six-start

winless stretch in which he is 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA.

The Yankees will be happy to have the right-hander on the mound

to cool off Colby Rasmus, who is 3 for 27 with 11 strikeouts

against him.

Rasmus continued to be Toronto’s hitting star as he homered in

his fourth straight game Wednesday – all since being activated off

the 15-day disabled list before Friday’s game against

Baltimore.

Chris Stewart figures to be back at catcher for the Yankees

after he did not start Wednesday, with rookie J.R. Murphy making

his second career start.

New York is 14-4 against Toronto (69-82) for its most victories

ever in this season series.