New York Yankees pitchers have taken advantage of a patchwork Toronto Blue Jays lineup this weekend.
Phil Hughes is next in line for the Yankees as they aim for a fifth straight win Sunday and their first three-game sweep at Rogers Centre in more than nine years.
New York (67-46) has taken the first two games of this series while recording 18 strikeouts of Toronto hitters. The Yankees last swept three north of the border in a season-opening 2003 series.
The Blue Jays (53-60) have lost five straight, getting held to 10 runs and batting .168. They remain without injured starters Jose Bautista (wrist), Brett Lawrie (oblique), J.P. Arencibia (hand) and Adam Lind (back). Those players account for 60 of Toronto's 154 homers, second in the majors to New York's 174.
Making matters worse for the Blue Jays is that outfielder Colby Rasmus is expected to miss a second straight game after leaving Friday's 10-4 loss with tightness in his right groin. Rasmus is third on the team with 20 homers.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar was hit twice by Ivan Nova in Saturday's 5-2 defeat. Escobar was forced to exit after he was struck on his left elbow the second time he was hit by a pitch, and manager John Farrell said he is day to day.
Farrell has been forced to pencil youngsters like Moises Sierra, Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose into his lineup. That trio combined for 11 hitless at_bats Saturday, with Gose striking out in all four.
Hughes (11-9, 4.10 ERA) will look to take advantage after going 0-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his first two starts against Toronto this year.
The right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in his last three road outings, having allowed four runs over 4 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 6-5 defeat at Detroit. Hughes had provided quality starts in each of his previous four outings and nine of 11.
The Yankees will have Ichiro Suzuki back in the lineup Sunday. The Japanese star did not start Saturday after matching a career high with five RBIs Friday.
"We had it kind of planned out so we just kind of stuck to it," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's a day game after a night game, he hasn't had a day off since we've had him so just figured give him a day off on the turf."
New York is an AL-best 24-14 against left-handed starters as it gets ready to face southpaw J.A. Happ (0-1, 6.35), who will make his first start against the Yankees.
Happ, acquired from Houston on July 20, made his first start with Toronto on Tuesday and gave up four runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay.
The only Yankee with more than three at_bats against Happ is Casey McGehee, who is 3 for 13. McGehee had a three-run homer Saturday, marking the first time he has gone deep since New York acquired him July 31 from Pittsburgh.
"We got so many guys that have been so good for so long, and (I want to) just try to do something to help," he said. "I made a conscious effort to relax today and just try to play my game."
One of those players who has been good for a long time is Derek Jeter, who had two hits Saturday to take his league-leading total to 150. Jeter and Hank Aaron are the only players to record 17 straight seasons with at least that many.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved