New York (91-59) at Toronto (76-75)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 1:07 pm EDT Sun Sep 18, 2011
  • TV: YES, RSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A lack of consistent starting pitching hasn’t made things easy on the AL-best New York Yankees.

In contrast, their longtime closer has been as reliable as ever.

After tying the major league record with his 601st save, Mariano Rivera(notes) could find himself in position to move alone atop that all-time list as the visiting Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays conclude their season series Sunday.

Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve Saturday’s 7-6 victory, moving into a tie with Trevor Hoffman(notes) for the career saves record.

“To me it was normal… I am uncomfortable because I don’t have this much attention at all,” Rivera said, smiling. “I would like you guys to just leave it alone. That would be good.”

With his 42nd save of the year, Rivera surpassed former teammate Mike Stanton(notes) with a record 14 seasons of at least 60 appearances. The 17-year veteran, who also has a major league-record 42 postseason saves, has converted all 13 of his opportunities since Aug. 10.

“Mo is awesome,” Alex Rodriguez(notes) said. “You just run out of things to say about him. Every save he’s had in his career meant something, and (Saturday) was another example of that.”

Rivera has allowed only one run in his last 13 appearances, helping the Yankees (91-59) bullpen drop its AL-best ERA to 3.03. New York’s starting rotation, though, owns a 4.03 mark, and with the playoffs quickly approaching, it lacks a proven No. 2 option behind ace CC Sabathia(notes).

Freddy Garcia(notes) (11-7, 3.71 ERA) hasn’t looked like a candidate to fill that role of late as he heads to the mound Sunday. He’s given up 12 runs and 16 hits - including four homers - over just 7 2-3 innings in two starts this month.

However, the right-hander did not get a decision in either game - the Yankees won both - and he’s 4-0 in his last seven outings.

Garcia has had problems with Toronto (76-75), going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA this year. His 6.10 career ERA versus the Blue Jays is his highest against any AL team, and he’s 7-7 in 17 career starts against them. He’s lost four consecutive outings in Toronto while surrendering 22 runs in 19 1-3 innings.

The Blue Jays counter with Brandon Morrow(notes) (9-11, 5.23), who also finds himself in the midst of a disappointing stretch. He’s 0-4 with a 9.47 ERA in his last five starts.

“I definitely feel like it hasn’t gone my way,” Morrow told the team’s official website. “… It’s just been a rough stretch that’s kind of been wearing on me I guess, but every five days I can go out there and feel good. I feel like I’m going to break out of it on that day.”

While many pitchers likely wouldn’t look forward to facing the Yankees, Morrow has overpowered them in three career home starts in this series. He’s gone 1-0 with a 1.83 ERA in those games, limiting the Yankees to a .171 average while striking out 26 in 19 2-3 innings.

Morrow has gotten the best of both Derek Jeter(notes) and Curtis Granderson(notes), who have hit .182 and .125 against him, respectively, with each striking out 10 times.

Granderson homered Saturday, as did Alex Rodriguez, who returned after missing six games (sprained thumb) and passed Eddie Collins for 14th place all-time with 1,821 runs.

The Yankees have taken 11 of 17 meetings from the Blue Jays this season, including six of the last seven.

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Starting Pitchers

F. Garcia Atl vs. B. Morrow SD
12-8 Record 11-11
3.62 ERA 4.72
96 K 203
45 BB 69
1.34 WHIP 1.29


Sunday, Sep 18