Halladay makes his final start of the season Thursday for the Toronto Blue Jays, who look to end the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak and avoid a three-game sweep.
New York (87-71) hasn’t swept a three-game road series against Toronto (83-75) since 2003, but the Yankees have been playing their best baseball of the season recently, winning seven straight and 10 of their last 11.
Despite being eliminated from postseason contention on Tuesday and sitting several of its regulars, New York still beat the Blue Jays 6-2 in 10 innings on Wednesday after Bobby Abreu hit a grand slam in the 10th off Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson. Abreu had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before his final at-bat.
“That’s the amazing thing about the game,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can have an awful day and in your last at-bat, you can have the biggest hit of the night. That’s why you have to be able to turn the page and he’s really good at doing that.”
The Yankees won despite Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez not starting. Jeter, who was hit by a pitch Saturday, also did not start on Tuesday, but he could play Thursday according to Girardi.
Damon came in as a pinch-runner in the ninth for New York, which last won eight straight from July 18-26.
The Yankees look to match their longest winning streak of the season Thursday when they face Halladay (19-11, 2.81 ERA), who is trying for his first 20-win season since 2003 when he finished with 22 en route to winning the AL Cy Young Award.
“It’s obviously a great milestone,” Halladay told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “It would mean a lot, but I think that it’s always reflected more so on the team than anything.”
Halladay is 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in five starts against the Yankees this season, and he has won both of his home outings against them, posting a 1.69 ERA over 16 innings.
The Toronto ace snapped a two-start losing streak Saturday against Boston after allowing three runs and six hits in a 6-3 win.
Halladay is 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 29 starts and two relief appearances against the Yankees. He is 7-1 with a 2.83 ERA against them at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees counter with Carl Pavano (4-1, 4.99), who has won his last two starts.
Pavano pitched five innings against the Orioles on Friday, allowing two runs and six hits in a 3-2 win. The right-hander was making his sixth start this season and his 25th since signing a four-year, $39.95 million contract before the 2005 season.
Pavano is 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays. On Aug. 29 against them, he allowed one run in six innings to gain credit for a 2-1 win.