Blue Jays take big bats into the Bronx to face Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion, right, celebrates at home plate with Jose Bautista after hitting a two-run homerun off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (not shown) during the third inning of MLB action in Toronto on Saturday, July 14, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
Published Monday, July 16, 2012 7:56AM EDT
The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays have combined for 272 home runs and will be seeing a lot of each other for the rest of the season.
These American League East rivals lead the majors in homers and have 16 meetings left, starting with Monday night's opener of a three-game set in the Bronx.
New York (54-34) has gone deep 142 times and Toronto 130. The Blue Jays (45-44) outhomered the Yankees 6-0 in a two-game sweep May 16-17 at Toronto in the only previous series between the clubs.
More longballs could be in store Monday since these teams' starting pitchers rank among baseball's leaders in surrendering the most. The series opener includes a pair who are among the AL's worst in home runs allowed, with the Yankees' Phil Hughes (9-7, 4.33 ERA) having given up 19 and the Blue Jays' Henderson Alvarez (5-7, 4.36) yielding 17.
New York fell 10-8 to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday as each team had four homers. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Eric Chavez and Alex Rodriguez all went deep for New York.
"It's not weird when you give up 10 runs, but it is kind of strange that you hit four home runs and you don't win the game," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez came up short in the bottom of the ninth inning as he popped up with the bases loaded for the final out after the Yankees had scored three times in the frame.
"What an awesome situation," Rodriguez said. "We just came up a little short."
The third baseman is the only Yankees player to homer off Alvarez, who will face New York for the second time in his career. He gave up five runs over six innings Sept. 17 and did not get a decision in a 7-6 home defeat.
The right-hander has gone 3-1 with a 3.83 earned-run average in seven road starts this year. Alvarez, though, hasn't pitched since July 5 and has been shaky of late with a 6.19 ERA over his past nine outings.
Hughes, meanwhile, has gone a season-high three straight outings without giving up a homer. He has yielded two runs over 16 innings in winning his last two home starts.
The right-hander fell to 1-3 with a 6.43 ERA in his last four starts against the Blue Jays by allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 4-1 loss May 17.
Jose Bautista homered off him in that contest and connected in both games of the series, but he enters this one having gone a season-worst nine straight games without a homer.
Edwin Encarnacion homered twice over the weekend as Toronto took two of three from Cleveland. He's up to 25 for the season and two behind Bautista for the team lead.
It's unclear if Blue Jays manager John Farrell will put left-fielder Rajai Davis back in the starting lineup after benching him in Sunday's 3-0 victory. Davis is among the major league leaders with 23 steals, but has gone hitless in his last 23 at-bats.
"At times, he has chased some pitches," Farrell told the Blue Jays' official website.
"Prior to this recent stretch, when he has gotten pitches around the plate, he hasn't missed them."
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has matched a career best with an 18-game hitting streak, batting .403 with six homers and 19 runs batted in.
Toronto has dropped five straight in the Bronx.