On what should be a memorable day at the new Yankee Stadium, New York looks to snap a six-game losing streak against Halladay as it continues a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
The ceremony in observance of Gehrig will be one of the first special moments at the Yankees’ new home after leaving a ballpark that was rich in tradition. It will be the anniversary of a speech on July 4, 1939, when Gehrig pronounced himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth” 15 days after being diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is now often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
Gehrig was a part of six World Series championships with the Yankees (46-33), who have been playing like title contenders of late with eight wins in their last nine games. New York opened this series with a 4-2 win over Toronto on Friday.
The Yankees, though, must now face Halladay (10-2, 2.56 ERA), who has posted a 1.91 ERA and three complete games in winning his last six starts versus New York. He has pitched back-to-back complete games against the Yankees, including Toronto’s 5-1 win on May 12.
The right-hander is 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 33 appearances, 31 starts, against the Yankees.
But Halladay may be rusty after making just one start for the Blue Jays (42-39) since returning from a stint on the disabled list due to a sore groin. In his first start since June 12, Halladay gave up two runs and five hits while striking out seven in six innings as Toronto lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay on Monday night.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Halladay said. “For the most part I felt pretty good with everything.”
New York will counter with Chien-Ming Wang(notes) (1-6, 10.06), who won for the first time since June 15, 2008, on Sunday night by allowing two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Mets.
Wang, who had a season-ending foot injury last June, has had a tough time rediscovering the form that made him a 19-game winner in 2006 and ’07. He’s shown gradual improvement over his last three outings, surrendering three runs or fewer in each contest.
Wang is 4-2 with a 4.63 ERA in nine starts versus the Blue Jays, who have lost five of their last six while being held to two runs or less in four of those games.
Struggling Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells(notes) was dropped to No. 6 in the batting order Friday for the first time since June 3, 2005, but responded with two hits, including a homer in the sixth inning. It was just the eighth home run for Wells, normally a No. 3 hitter, who entered the game in a 2-for-19 slump.
“If I want to get back to the position I’m used to hitting, I’ve got to do a better job,” Wells said.
Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez(notes), meanwhile, remains hot at the plate. He hit his 14th homer in this series’ opener, giving him five in his last eight games and 567 for his career—two shy of Rafael Palmeiro for 10th place on the all-time list.