"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Toronto Blue Jays

The Yankees did what they needed to do by taking three of four from the Devil Rays over the weekend. They’ll now need to do the same against the Blue Jays at home this week. The Jays are the toughest opponent the Yankees will face until they head to Cleveland on August 10 and they’ll face them seven times prior to that date, adding a three-game set in Toronto to wrap up the cupcake portion of their schedule in the first week of August.

The Blue Jays, who have gotten Roy Halladay, Greg Zaun and Reed Johnson back from the DL since the Yankees last saw them in late May, have played well of late. They opened the second half by splitting a four-game set in Boston and concluded the first half by taking four of six from the Indians and A’s. That said, the Jays are the definition of a .500 team (a game below in reality, a game above according to Pythagoras), while the Yankees are desperately trying to prove that they’re more than that. In that way, this could prove to be a huge series for the Bombers.

The Blue Jays hold a 3-1 advantage in the season series entering tonight having beaten Phil Hughes in his major league debut in a rain-shortened one-game series in the Bronx in April and taken two of three in the “Rod Said ‘Ha!’” series in late May. Of course, the Yankees’ starting pitchers in those four games were Hughes in his debut, Matt DeSalvo, Andy Pettitte, and Tyler Clippard, so the Blue Jays have yet to really face the Yankees’ best.

Not that they will tonight either. Kei Igawa takes the mound in his fourth start since returning from the minors. In his first three he’s posted a 6.19 ERA while walking nine and allowing three home runs in 16 innings (all three dingers coming in the middle start against the A’s). The Yanks will have to outhit whatever Igawa gives them tonight and will look to do so against Josh Towers. Towers’ last start (on July 8) was far and away his best of the season as he held the Indians scoreless on three hits and no walks over eight innings. He was nearly as good against the Tigers back on April 15, but otherwise has been more of a five-inning, four-run starter. He won’t walk very many, but he’ll give up his share of hits and homers. The Yankees have only faced Towers in relief this year, plating a run against him in 2 2/3 innings in their only win over the Jays on the season.

Toronto Blue Jays

2007 Record: 45-46 (.495)
2007 Pythagorean Record: 46-45 (.511)

Manager: John Gibbons
General Manager: J. P. Riccardi

Home Ballpark (2007 Park Factors): Rogers Centre (103/103)

Who’s Replacing Whom?

Reed Johnson (DL) replaces Adam Lind (minors) on the roster and Matt Stairs in left field
Greg Zaun (DL) replaces Sal Fasano (minors) on the roster and Jason Phillips behind the plate
Roy Halladay (DL) replaces A. J. Burnett (DL)
Brandon League replaces Josh Towers in the bullpen
Josh Towers replaces Tomo Ohka in the rotation

25-man Roster:

1B – Lyle Overbay (L)
2B – Aaron Hill (R)
SS – John McDonald (R)
3B – Troy Glaus (R)
C – Gregg Zaun (S)
RF – Alex Rios (R)
CF – Vernon Wells (R)
LF – Reed Johnson (R)
DH – Frank Thomas (R)

Bench:

L – Matt Stairs (OF/1B)
R – Royce Clayton (IF)
L – Howie Clark (IF)
R – Jason Phillips (C)

Rotation:

R – Roy Halladay
R – Shaun Marcum
R – Dustin McGowan
R – Jesse Litsch
R – Josh Towers

Bullpen:

R – Jeremy Accardo
R – Jason Frasor
L – Scott Downs
R – Casey Janssen
R – Brandon League
L – Brian Tallet
R – Brian Wolf

15-day DL: R – A. J. Burnett, L – Gustavo Chacin
60-day DL: L – B. J. Ryan, L – Davis Romero

Typical Lineup:

R – Vernon Wells (CF)
R – Reed Johnson (LF)
R – Alex Rios (RF)
R – Frank Thomas (DH)
R – Troy Glaus (3B)
L – Lyle Overbay (1B)
R – Aaron Hill (2B)
S – Gregg Zaun (C)
R – John McDonald (SS)

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver