Normally, coming off a crucial, possibly season-defining series win like the Yankees’ just-completed four-game sweep of the Red Sox, I’d be worried about the team suffering a let-down. The pieces are in place for a stumble. Their current seven-game winning streak seems likely to end soon. Fifth-starter Sergio Mitre will take the hill tonight against the Blue Jays and rookie Marc Rzepczynsky, who pitched well against the Yankees last week. Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jose Molina round out tonight’s lineup with Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui (via a DHing Jorge Posada) on the bench. Wednesday’s game brings Ricky Romero, who is one of two Blue Jay starters to have beaten the Yankees this year (do I even have to tell you who the other is?). Despite all that, I don’t see this year’s Yankees falling victim to a let-down.
The Yanks current seven-game winning streak is their fourth of that length or longer this season (they had three all of last year). They enter this series 7-2 against the Blue Jays on the season, including a two-game sweep last week as part of their current winning streak in which they beat Roy Halladay. Halladay won’t pitch in this series (Scott Richmond will pitch the middle game), and there was no off-day or plane trip today to interrupt the Yankees’ momentum.
There’s also the Blue Jays, who despite still having a positive run-differential on the season, have gone 26-43 (.377) since peaking at 27-14 on May 18. Since July 1, they’re 12-19 (.375), and most of that came before they traded their cleanup hitter.
The Blue Jays arrive in the Bronx tonight with the same 25-man roster they had last week in Toronto. Chad Gaudin and a rested Alfredo Aceves lurk in the Yankee bullpen to work long relief that could turn into a start when Mitre’s turn next comes around. Mitre’s struggles thus far can be summed up by his opponents’ .423 average on balls in play.
Rzepczynsky against Mitre and the Yanks last week: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Nick Swisher homered off Zep in that game, tying it at 3-3 in the seventh. The Jays’ bullpen caved, and Aceves got the win. Swisher moves up to the two-hole tonight with Damon sitting. Hairston bats seventh followed by Melky and Molina.