It's been a happy homecoming for Vernon Wells, who will try to power the New York Yankees to a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
A fixture in the outfield for more than a decade with Toronto (7-11), Wells has spent the past two-plus seasons tormenting the Blue Jays - first with the Los Angeles Angels the last two years before joining the Yankees (10-6) in late March. He is hitting .242 in 15 lifetime games versus Toronto, but all five of his home runs and seven of his nine extra-base hits in those contests have come in nine games north of the border.
Wells was at the center of New York's 5-3, 11-inning victory Saturday, scoring the go-ahead run on a two-run throwing error by losing pitcher Aaron Loup after leading off the inning with a single. He also homered for the second time in this series and is 5 for 10 with four runs scored in the two wins.
"You know what, you get in the moment and you make an aggressive play like that and sometimes it works out,' Wells said. "You look great when it works out and bad when it doesn't.'
Wells' limited track record versus Blue Jays scheduled starter Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.91 ERA) isn't much, going 1 for 6 with two walks as the Yankees try to complete their first series sweep at Toronto of at least three games since Aug. 26-28, 2004. Johnson is still seeking his first win with Toronto since being acquired from Miami in the offseason, but the right-hander appears to be on the right track. He did not get a decision Tuesday versus Chicago after limiting the White Sox to two runs and four hits in seven innings before the Blue Jays eventually lost 4-3.
"I was just more aggressive overall," Johnson told MLB's official website. "Fastball, curveball, slider, everything was going - not just to the catcher but through the catcher and through the zone. That was the main focus for this start, and it worked out."
Johnson, who has allowed homers in each of his two outings at home, won his only start against the Yankees back in 2009.
The Yankees go for the sweep behind Ivan Nova (1-1, 5.59), who will try to build on his last outing and win consecutive starts. He worked in and out of trouble Tuesday to get a win versus Arizona, allowing two runs and seven hits with two walks in five innings.
"It feels really good," Nova said of notching the victory. "I was joking with the guys - I don't remember when the last time was that I won a ballgame. I know that I didn't go far enough in the game. It's something we will keep working on. Hopefully, this is a good sign for me."
While Nova has a 17-8 lifetime road record, he has lost his last away from the Bronx dating back to last year, giving up 14 runs and 18 hits over 15 1-3 innings. One of those defeats came at Toronto on Sept. 27 after yielding four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 6-0 defeat.
Nova's last road win, though, also came at Rogers Centre, where he struck out 10 in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win Aug. 11. He is 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in six starts and seven lifetime appearances versus Toronto.
Edwin Encarnacion is 6 for 15 lifetime against Nova, while ex-Yankee Melky Cabrera is 3 for 5 with two homers and a double.
The Associated Press News Service
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