Yankees-Blue Jays Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays aren't going to walk away from August with many positives.
They can, however, add life to their receding playoff chances by completing the month with a strong series against the New York Yankees, one of the teams they're chasing for a spot in the postseason.
The first chance comes Friday night at home as Mark Buehrle tries to do away with a horrendous decade against New York.
Toronto (67-66) is 7-16 in August, though it avoided dipping under .500 for the first time since May 14 with Wednesday's 5-2 win over Boston. The Blue Jays are 5 1/2 games back of Seattle and Detroit for the second AL wild-card spot.
"Yeah, we're up against a big headwind, but yeah, you have to stay optimistic," manager John Gibbons told MLB's official website. "Why wouldn't you? What, are you going to quit?"
Jose Bautista homered for a second straight game after going 0 for 13 in his previous four.
Buehrle (11-8, 3.41 ERA) has his highest ERA of the season after surrendering three runs in 6 1-3 innings of Saturday's 5-4 win over Tampa Bay. After snapping a nine-start winless streak at the end of July, he's 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in four starts this month.
But there's a more substantial winless streak in this matchup. The left-hander is 1-12 in his career against the Yankees and is 0-10 with a 7.34 ERA and .337 opponents' batting average over 15 starts since April 20, 2004.
Ichiro Suzuki is 25 for 58 (.431) against Buehrle, Derek Jeter is 16 for 46 (.348), Brett Gardner is 11 for 26, Brian McCann is 9 for 21 and Stephen Drew is 6 for 14.
Jeter is batting .351 during a nine-game hitting streak against the Blue Jays and will be honored in a ceremony preceding his final regular-season series in Toronto, but his concerns are likely elsewhere.
After falling 3-2 to Detroit on Thursday, New York (69-63) is three games back in the wild-card race and well behind Baltimore for the division lead.
Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley summed up the importance of the defeat to a contending team after being on the mound for the walk-off loss.
"That's about as bad as I've felt walking off a mound in my career," Kelley said.
Jacoby Ellsbury was 1 for 4 and is batting .462 over his last 10 games, but New York managed just five hits. After scoring eight runs in the third inning of Wednesday's 8-4 win, the Yankees have scored twice in 15 innings.
Their pitching has excelled through a 6-2 stretch with a 2.89 ERA, though things have been uglier recently against Toronto. In the last six meetings, New York starters have posted a 7.39 ERA.
Chris Capuano is still chasing his first Yankees win. Capuano (1-3, 4.37) is 0-2 with a 4.21 ERA in six starts since making his New York debut on July 26 against Toronto. He held the Blue Jays to two runs in six innings of a 6-4 loss without being tagged with the decision.
More recently, the 36-year-old surrendered three runs in six innings of Sunday's 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Bautista is 7 for 19 with a pair of home runs against Capuano while Edwin Encarnacion is 3 for 20, but two of those hits left the yard. Encarnacion is batting .394 in nine games against the Yankees this season.
Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus has missed the past two games with flu-like symptoms.