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The Toronto Blue Jays and Yankees square off for four games starting Thursday, separated in the American League East by 1.5 games, Toronto with the advantage.
After the rubber match Wednesday night against the Red Sox, the Blue Jays continue their 10-game road trip with a pivotal four-game series at Yankee Stadium against their closest rival.
Thursday, 7 p.m.: LH David Price (14-5, 2.43) vs RH Luis Severino (3-2, 2.04)
Friday, 7 p.m.: RH Marco Estrada (11-8, 3.36) vs. RH Ivan Nova (6-7, 4.50)
Saturday, 1 p.m.: RH Marcus Stroman (0-0, 0.00) vs. RH Michael Pineda (10-8, 4.15)
Sunday, 1 p.m.: RH R.A. Dickey (10-10, 4.01) vs. RH Masahiro Tanaka (11-6, 3.57)
This is the biggest series of the season for both clubs, who have been separated by fewer than two games for the better part of a month now. Prior to Wednesday night’s action, the Jays held a slim, 1.5 game lead atop the division. Despite a number of key injuries, the Yankees have showed no signs they are prepared to concede the pennant. The Jays and Yankees are first and second in runs scored this season, and first and fourth in run differential.
On Thursday, New York rookie Luis Severino (3-2, 2.04) will face lefty David Price (14-5, 2.43).
Severino struck out nine Blue Jays on August 16 over 6.0 innings and Price, who the Blue Jays nabbed from Detroit at the trade deadline, has allowed three earned runs in 14.1 innings against New York this season.
But beyond Severino, the Yankees’ rotation is in flux. With Nathan Eovaldi out possibly the rest of the season with elbow trouble, New York hasn’t yet named any starters for the next three games, though they’re likely to stay in rotation
The Blue Jays sport among the league’s best offense; since August 1 they have baseball’s top on-base percentage (.348) with the third-most homers (56.)
But Yankees aren’t exactly slouching: they have 47 homers and the third-most walks, 127, in that time.
While it will likely feel like a playoff atmosphere at 161st street in the Bronx, Girardi said in terms of the rotation, it will be probably be decided in the next day or so. Losing the first two games wouldn’t effect Saturday or Sunday in that regard.
Rain began to fall late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in New York City, and the forecast for the first of a four-game series between the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays doesn’t look promising.
Several forecasts early Thursday morning have rain falling steadily through the morning and then picking up in the afternoon and evening.
That is not good news for those hoping to see some baseball. If the game is rained out, it would be the first Yanks’ washout all season.