Even without star Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees appear poised to continue their home success against the Toronto Blue Jays.
After the Yankees relied on the long ball to win the series opener while Jeter watched, they look for a fifth consecutive home victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.
With the injured Jeter at Yankee Stadium on Thursday for the first time in 2013, New York (12-9) belted three homers en route to a 5-3 win over Toronto. Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer, and ex-Blue Jay Vernon Wells and Francisco Cervelli added solo shots for the Yankees, who have started well despite being without Jeter until probably mid-July with a broken ankle.
"It's tough to not be around the team,'' said Jeter, who is expected to remain in New York for the Yankees' 10-game homestand.
Winners in 15 of 18 at home over Toronto, the Yankees have hit eight of their 31 home runs this season while taking three of four from the Blue Jays (9-14).
Cano is batting .353 (12 for 34) with three home runs and six RBIs in the last eight games. He's 17 for 34 while hitting safely in eight straight versus the Blue Jays.
Three of Wells' nine hits in his last 27 at-bats have been home runs - all while going 8 for 19 (.421) versus Toronto.
"(Wells has) got new life going over there,'' said Toronto manager John Gibbons, who was ejected in the seventh inning arguing a call Thursday. "He's a very intelligent guy and you know he's motivated.''
Scheduled starters Ivan Nova (1-1, 6.14 ERA) and Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.86) each hope for a better effort than Sunday when they squared off but did not factor in the decision of Toronto's 8-4 win.
Nova allowed four runs, seven hits and walked four in five innings. The right-hander has failed to last more than five innings in three starts.
"He'll throw one pitch down and away and the next pitch will be up and in," catcher Chris Stewart told the Yankees' official website. "You have to be able to repeat what you need to do and if you don't, you're going to get in trouble."
Nova is 3-1 with a 4.24 ERA in seven starts versus Toronto, including 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts at Yankee Stadium.
Johnson also yielded four runs, plus eight hits in 5 1-3 innings Sunday.
"For the first four innings, everything felt good," Johnson told the Blue Jays' official website. "It seems like it happens a couple of times a year where you just all of a sudden can't find the zone for whatever reason."
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts versus New York, but has never pitched in the Bronx.
Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie each homered Thursday for the Blue Jays, who have scored 11 of their 12 runs over the last three games off seven homers.
Encarnacion has homered in three straight games. His two-run shot Thursday is his lone hit in 25 at-bats in seven games against the Yankees.