Blue Jays-Yankees Preview
On the verge of their longest winning streak since late August, the desperate New York Yankees are hoping to continue what would be an improbable run at a playoff berth.
Facing a left-hander they've tormented for more than a decade could help them take another step in that direction.
The Yankees seek their 16th victory in 17 games when facing Mark Buehrle as they try to send the visiting Toronto Blue Jays to their worst losing streak of the season Friday night.
Derek Jeter snapped a 158 at-bat homerless streak in the sixth inning Thursday before Chase Headley drove in the winning run when his ninth-inning grounder went through the legs of Adam Lind in New York's 3-2 victory.
The Yankees (78-74) won consecutive games for only the third time since a five-game run from Aug. 21-25. They moved past Toronto into sole possession of second place in the East, but are still five games back of a wild-card spot with 10 remaining.
''Obviously this year up until this point hasn't turned out how I'd like to, but you've got to keep fighting," said Jeter, who is playing his final homestand. "You've got to keep battling."
Now New York will try to take the first two in this four-game set while extending its dominance against Buehrle.
The 35-year-old has gone 1-13 with a 6.14 ERA in 20 career starts against the Yankees, including 11 straight losing decisions dating back to April 2004. Buehrle's clubs also have dropped 10 straight at Yankee Stadium when he starts.
Buehrle (12-9, 3.40 ERA) hasn't fared better in this year's matchups, going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in four outings. He has just one win in his last eight starts overall after giving up four runs over six innings in Sunday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay.
New York's Brian McCann (10 for 24), Brett Gardner (12 for 29), Ichiro Suzuki (26 for 61) and Stephen Drew (7 for 16) should be happy to see Buehrle again. Jeter is hitting .347 with two homers in 49 career at-bats in the matchup.
''It's not like we're all running to the bat racks because Buehrle is pitching,'' Jeter said after New York's 6-3 road win Aug. 29. "I think that's just a fluke thing.''
The Yankees have totaled only one run for Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.81) in his last two starts - both New York defeats.
The right-hander lasted a season-low 3 1-3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay on Sept. 9, before bouncing back with a strong performance Sunday. He gave up one run over seven innings, but the bullpen blew his lead in a 3-2 defeat at Baltimore.
Kuroda has gone 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last six starts overall and is 6-2 with a 3.34 mark in his last nine versus Toronto (77-75). He hasn't been sharp in two victories over the Blue Jays this season, allowing seven runs and 16 hits in 12 innings.
Jose Bautista, who hit his seventh home run this season versus New York on Thursday, has gone deep twice in three at-bats against Kuroda in 2014. Jose Reyes is 9 for 21 in his last five games and 12 for 26 in this matchup.
The Blue Jays have totaled just 12 runs and batted .194 during a season-high five-game losing streak.
"It's disappointing for everybody,'' pitcher R.A. Dickey said.
New York's Carlos Beltran could return to the lineup for the first time in four games after his wife had a miscarriage.