Yankees-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Yankees have somehow split the first two games of this series despite scoring in one of their 18 innings at the plate.

That production will likely have to improve over the final 10 games for them to reach the playoffs, and they have already lost once to Toronto Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond heading into Thursday night's series finale at Rogers Centre.

New York (80-72) was blanked for the first 16 innings in this set before breaking through for four runs in the eighth Wednesday to rally from a three-run deficit for a 4-3 victory that ended a four-game slide.

"We hadn't shaken hands for a while, so it was kind of nice," manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees and Kansas City are 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the AL's second wild-card spot. Baltimore is one game back and Cleveland is one-half game out.

Girardi used Mariano Rivera for a four-out save - his 44th of the year - after former Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells' two-run double capped the eighth-inning rally.

"Every time you win, it's a great feeling,'' Rivera said. "Hopefully we come back tomorrow and wrap it up."

Numerous hitters continue to fare poorly. The most notable is Alex Rodriguez, who is 1 for 18 over his last six games while dealing with a strained right calf and a sore left hamstring.

Ichiro Suzuki did not start Wednesday and has three hits in his last 23 at-bats, Curtis Granderson is 8 for 36 with 13 strikeouts on this 10-game trip and Robinson Cano has three singles and no walks in his last 16 at-bats.

The Yankees will get another look at Redmond (3-2, 4.10 ERA), a rookie who is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his last three outings. That run began when he limited New York to two runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 7-2 home win Aug. 28.

Redmond yielded one run over a career-high 6 1-3 innings last Friday in a 5-3 defeat to Baltimore, striking out seven with no walks.

"He threw a whale of a game," manager John Gibbons said.

Girardi said last month that Redmond has a deceptive arm angle and the manager will once again use Hiroki Kuroda (11-11, 3.13) to oppose the Toronto right-hander.

Kuroda surrendered seven runs over five innings in that outing after going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA over his previous five starts against the Blue Jays. Last month's loss is part of a six-start winless stretch in which he is 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA.

The Yankees will be happy to have the right-hander on the mound to cool off Colby Rasmus, who is 3 for 27 with 11 strikeouts against him.

Rasmus continued to be Toronto's hitting star as he homered in his fourth straight game Wednesday - all since being activated off the 15-day disabled list before Friday's game against Baltimore.

Chris Stewart figures to be back at catcher for the Yankees after he did not start Wednesday, with rookie J.R. Murphy making his second career start.

New York is 14-4 against Toronto (69-82) for its most victories ever in this season series.

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