New York (100-60) at Toronto (66-93)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sat Oct 2, 2004
  • TV: YES, TSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Yankees need Kevin Brown to be at the top of his game.

Brown will be auditioning for a spot in the Yankees’ postseason rotation as New York continues its three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at SkyDome.

Although they’ve won the AL East and have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, the Yankees have some serious questions with their pitching staff heading.

Mike Mussina is likely to start Tuesday’s playoff opener and be followed by Jon Lieber in Game 2. The rest of the rotation has not been decided.

Brown and Javier Vazquez are vying for a spot that was thought to be locked up by veteran Orlando Hernandez. However, Hernandez has a tired arm and doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to start in the playoffs.

He lost his second straight start, allowing five runs in three innings Friday night as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 7-0 behind David Bush’s two-hitter. Hernandez, pushed back three days in the rotation because of a tired shoulder, gave up five hits and three walks as he repeatedly threw soft pitches.

“Maybe my arm needs a little rest,” said Hernandez, who missed the 2003 season because of shoulder surgery. “I’m feeling tired. It’s normal for the rehab. I didn’t start for a long time.”

Hernandez’s arm problems put Brown back into the spotlight.

The 39-year-old Brown carries a 10-5 record and a 4.25 ERA into Saturday’s game. Back, stomach and hand ailments forced him to miss almost two months of playing time and his off the field demeanor has made him the target of the media and fans.

Brown missed three weeks after breaking his left hand when he punched a clubhouse wall on Sept. 3, then was hit hard in his return. He got just two outs at Boston last Sunday, when he allowed four runs and six hits in an 11-4 loss to the Red Sox.

“It’s an important start for him,” Torre said.

Toronto has won two straight and three of its last for games against the Yankees to improve to 6-11 against New York this season.

Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Blue Jays, who were assured their first last-place finish since 1981—their fifth season in the AL. Tampa Bay beat Detroit on Friday to clinch fourth in the AL East.

Right-hander Roy Halladay will pitch against the Yankees on Saturday. He’s 6-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 18 games against New York, including 16 starts.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Brown NYY vs. R. Halladay Tor
10-6 Record 8-8
4.09 ERA 4.20
83 K 95
35 BB 39
1.27 WHIP 1.35