Coming off consecutive victories against a playoff contender, the New York Yankees have built some momentum that might help them end their recent struggles in Toronto.
The AL East-leading Yankees look to win three in a row for the first time in three weeks Friday night as they try to avoid a fourth straight road loss to the Blue Jays.
New York (65-46) dropped the first two of a four-game set in Detroit before breaking out for a 12-8 victory Wednesday, then rallying to win 4-3 on Thursday. Trailing by a run in the eighth inning of the finale, Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez hit back-to-back homers to help the Yankees snap an eight-game skid in one-run games.
"I'm extremely happy for what our guys accomplished," said manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected for arguing a fair-or-foul call in the fifth.
Winners in five of eight after losing nine of their previous 12, the Yankees last won three straight July 16-18, sweeping a home set against Toronto.
The banged-up Blue Jays (53-58) have lost nine of 11 overall after being swept in three games at Tampa Bay this week, but they've outscored New York 15-2 while winning three straight at home in the series. The Yankees lost twice at Rogers Centre in May to fall to 7-14 in their last 21 north of the border.
Chavez went 9 for 16 with two home runs and five RBIs this week in Detroit, but he's 3 for 28 with a homer in his last 11 games against the Blue Jays.
Teixeira has batted .172 (5 for 29) with one RBI in his last seven at Toronto, although he homered at home July 18 against scheduled Toronto starter Ricky Romero.
The left-hander lost that game 6-0, allowing six runs and 12 hits in six innings of the rain-shortened defeat. He has posted a 7.13 ERA while losing three consecutive starts against the Yankees.
Romero (8-8, 5.47 ERA) had lost seven straight starts overall - with a 9.44 ERA in that stretch - before a strong outing Saturday at Oakland. He yielded one run and three hits in seven innings, but Toronto needed 11 innings to win 3-1, so Romero still hasn't won since June 22.
He has certainly struggled at times, but his teammates share the blame. Toronto has totaled one run in Romero's 32 1-3 innings over his last six outings.
The Blue Jays were held to four runs and 12 hits in the series against the Rays without injured regulars Jose Bautista (wrist), Brett Lawrie (oblique), J.P. Arencibia (hand) and Adam Lind (back).
"It's not a good feeling for anybody," first baseman Edwin Encarnacion said after Thursday's 7-1 loss. "It's hard to have four players hurt like we do. We have to do the best we can."
Encarnacion hit .189 (7 for 37) during Toronto's 2-8 trip, but he's 7 for 19 (.368) with four doubles and a homer against the Yankees in 2012. He's 2 for 6 with four walks versus scheduled starter Freddy Garcia (5-5, 5.00).
The 35-year-old right-hander got his 150th career win and snapped a three-start skid Sunday when he allowed two runs in five innings of a 6-2 win over Seattle.
"For me, it's another win," said Garcia, 3-5 with a 6.09 ERA in 11 starts this season. "Hopefully, more are coming."
It would be a rarity for Garcia to earn a win in Toronto, where he's 0-5 with a 9.42 ERA in six starts since winning there Sept. 7, 2000, with Seattle.
- Blue Jays