New York (91-59) reduced its magic number for a ninth straight division crown to three by opening a seven-game road trip with a 7-6 victory over Toronto on Monday.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez hit two-run homers for the Yankees, who played day-night doubleheaders against Boston each of the two previous days. New York battled back from a 3-0 deficit after five innings Monday.
“It’s as tired I’ve seen our group in maybe three years,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just good to have one game.”
Rodriguez hasn’t looked tired of late, going 23-for-58 (.397) with eight homers and 22 RBIs over his last 17 games. The reigning AL MVP is four RBIs shy of reaching 120 for the seventh time in his career.
Jeter had his career-high 25-game hitting streak snapped in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader before bouncing back with his 14th homer Monday—a shot that gave the Yankees the lead for good. The shortstop, however, is 3-for-19 over the last three days.
With its bullpen limited due to the doubleheaders, New York received a much-needed six innings from spot starter Darrell Rasner on Monday. Rasner allowed three runs and six hits while pitching on three days’ rest.
The Yankees bullpen, still without All-Star closer Mariano Rivera, has a 6.61 ERA over the last five games. Four New York relievers gave up three runs and four hits in the ninth inning Monday.
New York will send another inexperienced starter to the mound Tuesday in rookie Jeff Karstens (1-1, 4.08 ERA), who will make his fifth career start. The right-hander pitched five innings Thursday and gave up four runs, not figuring in the decision in a 7-4 victory over Tampa Bay.
Karstens, who has never faced the Blue Jays, is 1-0 with a 3.78 ERA on the road this year.
Toronto (79-71) has lost four straight to New York. The Blue Jays had their four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 46-29 at Rogers Centre—tied with Chicago for the third-best home record in the AL behind Minnesota and New York.
Struggling Troy Glaus hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning that provided the final margin. Glaus, who went 2-for-5, had gone 12-for-63 (.190) with no RBIs over his previous 20 games.
The Blue Jays will be eliminated from AL East contention with one more loss, but would prefer not to see the Yankees clinch against them.
“I would not want them to do it here,” catcher Bengie Molina said. “But if it happens, we’ll see how we take it.”
Rookie Shaun Marcum (2-4, 5.43) will make his 12th start of the year for Toronto. He’s 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in five home starts.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA in two starts against New York this season.