The AL East rivals continue their series Tuesday night at Rogers Centre after some bad blood in the first game.
New York (62-50) rallied for a 5-4 win on Monday, scoring four runs in the sixth inning keyed by Robinson Cano’s two-run double. The Yankees begin play one-half game behind Detroit for the AL wild card.
But Toronto (56-55) appeared to take care of some unfinished business when rookie starter Jesse Litsch threw behind Alex Rodriguez in the second. It may have been retaliation for when Rodriguez apparently yelled something to distract third baseman Howie Clark on a popup in the Yankees’ last visit to Toronto on May 30.
Since the teams played in New York from July 15-18, the Yankees were confused about the timing of the retaliation.
“They played us four games at our place,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “Unless they didn’t care about doing it there and they did it here, that doesn’t make sense.”
Rodriguez also slid hard into shortstop John McDonald while trying to break up a double play in the fourth, swiping his left arm in anger and yelling at second base umpire Derryl Cousins.
Rodriguez said after the game that he couldn’t remember the pitch behind him, then walked away without answering when asked about the play at second base. McDonald also had little to say on the matter.
New York has won five of nine from Toronto this year and will need a better effort from Roger Clemens (3-5, 4.23 ERA), who will pitch for the first time since he was booed off the mound.
Clemens gave up a season-high eight runs - three earned - and nine hits in 1 2-3 innings of a 13-9 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. It marked Clemens’ shortest start since June 14, 2000 during his first stint with the Yankees.
Clemens won two of his seven AL Cy Young Awards pitching for Toronto in 1997 and 1998, but he hasn’t enjoyed much success as a visitor at Rogers Centre. He’s 3-5 with a 5.67 ERA in his last 13 road starts there, and this will be his first appearance in Toronto since 2003.
Clemens is just 1-4 with a 5.90 ERA in five road starts this year.
Toronto’s Josh Towers (5-8, 5.17) hasn’t allowed a run at home over his last 14 2-3 innings, allowing only six hits and two walks in that span.
But Towers enters this game after losing two straight road outings, giving up four runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings in each of them including a 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
The right-hander is 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA against the Yankees in 13 career appearances, including nine starts. He’s 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two starts against them this season.
Derek Jeter is hitting .400 (14-for-35) in his career against Towers, while Rodriguez has struggled with a .192 (5-for-26) average.
Designated hitter Jason Giambi wrapped up his minor league rehab stint Sunday and will rejoin the Yankees, but it’s not yet known when he will be activated.
“I’ll talk to him, see how comfortable he feels and go from there,” Torre said
Giambi, who’s hitting .262 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 45 games, was placed on the 15-day DL on June 1 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.