Yankees-Blue Jays Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays' offense has fallen on hard times during an August swoon, though Jose Bautista is carrying them during his best home run streak in five years.
The New York Yankees, meanwhile, fear they could be without red-hot Jacoby Ellsbury for an extended period.
While Bautista looks to homer in a career-best fifth straight contest Sunday, the Blue Jays will try to wrap up only their second series win this month with rare back-to-back victories over the Yankees.
Since averaging an MLB-best 6.2 runs and hitting 17 homers during a 11-2 stretch to close July, Toronto (68-67) has scored a baseball-low 3.3 per game while dropping 17 of 25 in August.
Bautista has hit seven of the team's 15 homers this month, including one in each of the last four games to match his career-best streak set from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2009.
The slugging right fielder hit a two-run shot in the first inning in Saturday's 2-0 victory, joining Carlos Delgado (175), Vernon Wells (124) and Joe Carter (121) as the only Toronto players with 100 homers at Rogers Centre.
Now Bautista will look to lead the Blue Jays to two straight wins for the first time since taking a three-game home set against Detroit from Aug. 8-10. He has six long balls and 10 RBIs in his last 10 home games versus New York.
"He's a pretty good hitter," losing pitcher Michael Pineda said after allowing Bautista's 28th home run Saturday.
The Yankees (70-64), who have won seven of 10, trail Detroit and Seattle in the race for the AL's second wild card. They're looking to regroup offensively after managing only a Mark Teixeira fourth-inning double Saturday.
Ellsbury, however, may not be able to help for a second straight game after injuring his ankle in the series opener. The outfielder had been on a roll, going 11 for 22 with four homers and nine RBIs in his previous five games.
"I'd be really shocked if he played tomorrow," manager Joe Girardi said, suggesting a longer absence was possible.
Toronto's J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.40 ERA) hasn't beaten the Yankees since August 2012, going 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in his last five meetings. He did not factor in the decision July 27 when he gave up three runs - two earned - over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-4 win.
The left-hander has a 6.46 ERA over his last three outings overall, but allowed three runs with eight strikeouts in six innings of Monday's 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Red Sox.
Ichiro Suzuki is 4 for 7 all-time versus Happ, while Derek Jeter has gone 7 for 14 with two home runs and Carlos Beltran 7 for 21 with three homers. Brian McCann, though, is just 3 for 19 in the matchup.
Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 2.47) provided a lift by going 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in his first eight starts with New York before allowing five runs and nine hits over 6 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 5-2 loss at Detroit.
The right-hander has excelled with an 1.88 ERA in seven daytime starts, compared to a 5.03 mark in 20 at night.
McCarthy is 3-3 with a 4.06 ERA in seven career starts versus Toronto, allowing four runs in a complete-game 4-1 loss while with the Diamondbacks last September.
Former Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera is 1 for 8 in this series, but 4 for 9 with two home runs lifetime when facing McCarthy.