The veteran will try to help the surging New York Yankees end the Blue Jays’ eight-game home winning streak Monday in the opener of a three-game set.
Pettitte (7-7, 3.97 ERA) has been solid over his last five starts, going 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 32 2-3 innings. The stretch, which includes four wins for New York (61-50), is an improvement for the 35-year-old left-hander after he went 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA in his eight prior starts.
He will try to continue that current success against Toronto (56-54), which is looking to extend its home streak to nine games for the first time since Aug. 27-Sept. 7, 1998. The club-record is a 10-game run from July 21-Aug. 3, 1985.
Pettitte turned in another terrific outing Wednesday, holding the Chicago White Sox to one run and six hits while striking out six batters in seven frames of an 8-1 victory.
“Today was a perfect example of what he’s capable of doing,” Yankees catcher Jorge Posada told the team’s official Web site. “It seemed like he tried to do too much early and he really settled down. He got the ball down and got a lot of pitches down. He’s a battler.”
Pettitte is 10-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 16 games - 15 starts - at Rogers Centre. However, he lost his last game there on May 29 by allowing three runs - one earned - and six hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2 defeat that included five errors, two by the Yankees.
The Blue Jays took two of three from New York in that series, and the teams have split eight meetings this year.
New York completed a three-game sweep of Kansas City with an 8-5 win Sunday. The Yankees have won six of their last seven games and 18 of 25 since the All-Star break, although this will be their first series against a winning team after the break.
The surge has pulled the Yankees within one-half game of Detroit for the AL wild card lead. They trail first-place Boston by 6 1/2 games in the AL East race.
New York’s Hideki Matsui, who hit his 22nd home run Sunday, is hitting .379 (11-for-29) in seven games against Toronto this season. The left fielder continues to be one of the hottest Yankees at the plate, averaging .352 with 14 homers and 32 RBIs in his last 31 contests.
Second baseman Robinson Cano went 0-for-3 on Sunday, but is still hitting .485 (33-for-68) with 19 RBIs in his last 17 games.
Toronto swept a three-game series from Texas on Sunday with a 4-1 win. Frank Thomas went 5-for-12 over the weekend to improve to 10-for-27 (.370) with two homers and 14 RBIs during the eight-game home surge.
The designated hitter attempts to continue his hot hitting against Pettitte, whom he is hitting .378 (17-for-45) against, with three home runs and 13 RBIs.
Toronto starter Jesse Litsch (4-4, 3.47) is looking to win his third consecutive start after allowing one run and 12 hits in 13 2-3 innings in his last two trips to the mound. The 22-year-old rookie right-hander was superb on Tuesday, scattering seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-0 victory at Tampa Bay.
“He rose to the occasion today,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “I really didn’t think he was nervous though. He has a lot of confidence, he really does. You’re not going to find many guys with more confidence than he has.”
Litsch will need that confidence after his first career start against the Yankees on May 30. He was pulled after only getting two outs as he surrendered five runs and four hits, including a leadoff homer to Johnny Damon, in a 10-5 home loss.
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