(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees hope to pad their lead atop the
American League East on Thursday when they open a four-game series with the
Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
New York won for the ninth time in 11 tries on Wednesday, as CC Sabathia
tossed eight strong innings to lead the Yankees past the Minnesota Twins, 8-2,
in the rubber match of a three-game set at Target Field.
Sabathia (14-6) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts to
snap a five-start winless streak.
"I felt pretty good. The command on the fastball was there today," Sabathia
said. "That's what felt good, being able to go out there and command the ball.
The fastball command was great and everything works off of that."
Chris Dickerson hit a two-run homer, while Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson
also knocked in a pair of runs for the Yankees, who sit 1 1/2 games ahead of
the Baltimore Orioles for the top spot in the AL East.
New York could push that advantage to two on Thursday, as Baltimore has an
off-day before starting a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Friday.
Getting the call for the Yankees on Thursday will be righty Ivan Nova, who is
12-7 with a 4.94 ERA. Nova was awful on Saturday against the Oakland
Athletics, as he surrendered three runs and five hits with two walks in just 2
1/3 innings, but did not factor in the decision of his team's 10-9 win.
Nova beat Toronto the last time he faced it and is 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA in six
games (5 starts) against it.
Toronto, meanwhile, will hand the ball in the opener to hard-throwing righty
Brandon Morrow, who is winless in his last four starts (0-2). Morrow lost to
Tampa Bay on Saturday, yielding five runs and five hits with four walks in
four innings, dropping him to 8-7 to go along with a 3.28 ERA.
"I saw powerful stuff, maybe the best overall stuff that he's had since coming
back from the injury," Farrell said. "They did an outstanding job of not
expanding the strike zone on the slider.
"They laid off a number of them to force him to throw them for a strike and
unfortunately he wasn't able to throw his breaking ball for a strike until the
third inning, and by that time, they had put a number of good swings on some
pitches and really ran up the pitch count."
Morrow is 3-3 in 16 games (9 starts) versus the Yankees with a 4.03 ERA.
Toronto helped the Yankees out a bit this week, as it split a four-game series
with the Orioles. However, the Blue Jays were denied a series win on
Wednesday, dropping a 12-2 decision.
Carlos Villanueva (7-7) was shelled for six runs and served up four home runs
despite striking out seven batters in 4 2/3 innings.
"His secondary pitches were the pitches that were up over the middle of the
plate that cost him," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Villanueva.
Edwin Encarnacion had a solo homer for the Blue Jays and Anthony Gose added an
RBI single in defeat, Toronto's eighth in its last 10 contests.
New York has won nine of 14 from the Jays this season.
The Sports Network