The Yankees wrap up their series with the Blue Jays this afternoon with a makeup of the game that was rained out on April 25. The way the Yanks were playing back then, the rain out worked in their favor, as they’re far more likely to win this afternoon than they were when facing a full-strength Blue Jays lineup amid a seven-game losing streak in late April.
The stakes is high this afternoon as the Red Sox are idle. The result of this game will erase that half game in the AL East standings for permanent either to the Yankees’ benefit (an even one game back) or to their detriment (a solid two games back with just six left to play). Fortunately, the Yanks have their second-half ace Andy Pettitte on the hill coming off a strong outing (7 2/3 IP, 1 R) against the admittedly half-assing Orioles. Andy has handled the Jays well this year, posting a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings in three starts while striking out 17 and not allowing a home run. The bad news is that the Jays counter with A.J. Burnett, who stuck it to the Yankees in Toronto two weeks ago (8 IP, 1 R, 8 K), the lone run coming on a Johnny Damon homer. Burnett twirled a gem against the Red Sox as well in his last start, but as a result has thrown 244 pitches over those last two outings. Still, since coming off the DL in mid-August, Burnett has gone 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, and 57 Ks in 59 2/3 innings.
Damon is the DH this afternoon, with Matsui in left, Posada back behind the plate, and Mientkiewicz at first base.
Oh, and if the Yanks win and the Tigers lose in Minnesota tonight (Nate Robertson v. Carlos Silva), the Yankees will clinch their 13th consecutive playoff appearance.