Yankees-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

An early start Saturday bodes well for the New York Yankees but not for Toronto Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison.

The bigger issue for New York is whether its hottest hitter will be available.

The surging Jacoby Ellsbury has an ankle injury that could keep him out of the middle game of this series in Canada.

New York (70-63) is a major league-best 28-17 in day games and could be eager to face Hutchison, who is 2-6 with a 6.33 ERA in nine day starts compared to 6-5 with a 3.90 ERA in 17 at night.

The Yankees would love to be able to start Ellsbury, who is 5 for 11 off Hutchison (8-11, 4.68) and enjoying a strong trip.

Ellsbury homered for the third time in five games in Friday's 6-3 victory, improving to 11 for 22 with four homers and nine RBIs in that span. His two-run shot capped a five-run seventh inning after New York was held scoreless through six.

The problem is that he injured his left ankle when he slid into catcher Dioner Navarro after trying to score on a grounder in the ninth. Ellsbury stayed in the game and X-rays were negative, but manager Joe Girardi said his status for Saturday was in doubt.

''It's frustrating because he's playing so well,'' Girardi said.

The Yankees are three games behind in the race for the AL's second wild card with Detroit and Seattle ahead of them.

They will get another look at Hutchison, who is 1-3 with a 7.08 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this year. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last three outings.

Derek Jeter is 7 for 14 against Hutchison, but he is one of several Yankees struggling this month. Jeter is batting .216 in 24 games in August while Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira are both at .200.

Toronto (67-67) dropped to 7-17 this month despite seeing Jose Bautista homer for the third straight game Friday. He has never gone deep in four in a row.

The Blue Jays are averaging an AL-worst 3.3 runs in August.

''We've just got to swing our way out of it,'' manager John Gibbons said. ''We're better hitters than what we're producing as a whole right now.''

Edwin Encarnacion went 0 for 4 on Friday and is 7 for 46 in 12 games since missing more than a month due to a strained right quadriceps.

New York's Michael Pineda (3-2, 1.95) has faced Toronto more than any opponent in his career, going 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in four starts. He earned his first big league win over the Blue Jays while with Seattle on April 12, 2011.

The right-hander also made his Yankees debut against Toronto, allowing one run over six innings in a 4-0 road loss April 5.

Bautista and Encarnacion are a combined 3 for 21 with no homers versus Pineda. Adam Lind has fared better, going 4 for 11 with two homers and a double.

Pineda gave up one run in 6 1-3 innings in Monday's 8-1 victory at Kansas City.

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