Series Preview | Yankees vs. Blue Jays IV: Anyone but Bautista

(Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

The Yankees open the second half of the season with a four-gamer in Toronto, heading back up to Canada for the first time since April.

The Bombers are 5-3 against the Blue Jays this season, and only need four wins in their remaining 10 games against the Extra-Base Hits to exceed their 2010 win total against the Jose Bautistas. When the teams last met, the Bombers took two of three at home, thanks in part to their most exciting comeback of the season.

Toronto comes into this series in 4th place in the AL East, with a 45-47 record. The team once again boasts a strong offensive attack — a .326 wOBA, 5th-best in the AL, and 105 wRC+ — and its starters have adhered pretty closely to the solid numbers the group posted last season, but unfortunately for Toronto the rest of the league’s staffs got better while they’ve mostly stayed the same.…

Blue Jays thump Yanks 7-3

So that's where Bautista's beard went. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Bartolo Colon got through the first five innings relatively unscathed (save a first-inning solo Jose Baustista, which happens) before giving up five runs in the sixth inning, which wound being plenty for the Blue Jays, who beat the Yankees 7-3 Monday night.

True to form, the Yankees couldn’t do much of anything against spot starter Carlos Villanueva, who they had previously only seen in two one-inning relief appearances, and so for all intents and purposes he was yet another scrubby-pitcher-the-Yankees-have-never-faced-before-and-were-subsequently-owned by. Villanueva only lasted five innings, but struck five men out and only gave up two hits and one run on a sac fly. Let’s have a round of applause for the offense, who needed to come up big against a guy they knew wouldn’t be in the game forever, and didn’t

On the bright side, the Yankees finally broke the Toronto bullpen’s scoreless streak against them with runs against Jason Frasor and Jon Rauch, but it wouldn’t be enough.…

Microcap: Yanks drop a winnable one against Jays

This one’s gonna be bullet-point style, as I missed most last night’s 5-3 Yankee loss and have a variety of personal obligations to tend to:

Ricky Romero was his usual studly self, holding the Yankees to two runs over six innings, though he wasn’t very economical about it, needing 109 pitches to get through those six frames. According to the postgame, the Yankees blew a huge opportunity in the fifth, loading the bases with no outs, but Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez — the two guys you’d most want up in that situation — couldn’t get the job done.
– I caught Alex’s last two at-bats, and he looks totally uncomfortable at the plate. I’m not going to get on him for a mini-slump considering how great he’s been, but it’s crazy how quickly a player can go from locked in to lost.
Freddy Garcia was OK, but not great, giving up three runs over five, including a (surprise, surprise) home run to Jose Bautista.…

Yankees vs. Blue Jays I: Oh, it's you again

Jose Bautista circling the bases during one of the 300,000 home runs he hit against the Yankees in 2010 (photo c/o The Toronto Sun)

The Yankees head up to Toronto to face their most annoying foe of the 2010 season (for some people that distinction might go to Tampa Bay, but at least the Rays were a playoff-bound team last year). Toronto was one of only two teams — along with Tampa Bay —  to notch 10 wins against the Yankees last season, and their ridiculously annoying penchant for hitting two-baggers (27 doubles in 18 games) and home runs (33) against the Yankees last season led me to sardonically dub them The Toronto Extra-Base Hits. Combined with a slew of top-notch pitching performances — led by soft-tossing lefty Brett Cecil, who went 4-0 against the Yankees last season and led all of baseball with four wins against the Bombers in 2010 — the Jays wound up being a pain in the neck each and every time the Yankees faced them.…

A look at the 2011 Toronto Blue Jays

In 2010 the Toronto Blue Jays did not actually hit 397 home runs against the Yankees, while using a starting rotation composed entirely of lefthanded junk-ballers to hold the Bombers to only 4 runs en-route to a record of 114-2 against a division rival. It just seemed that way.

Instead, the 2010 Blue Jays hit 209 home runs versus all of their opponents, and compiled a 10-8 record against the Yankees. This was, believe it or not, the first time the Yankees managed a losing record against Toronto in the Unbalanced Schedule Era. The Jays’ overall 85-77 record can only be considered less than a success in the hyper-competitive AL East. Anywhere else last season’s Blue Jays would have been contenders.

The 2010 Blue Jays used an unusual recipe for success. On offense, the Jays sacrificed on-base percentage for the long ball. Of the nine players who led the team in PA’s, according to Baseball Reference, eight of them hit at least 17 bombs.…

Brett Cecil becomes Majors' winningest pitcher against 2010 Yankees in Blue Jay rout; A-Rod hits 30-HR plateau for 13th straight season

It may say Managing General Partner next to Hal Steinbrenner’s name, but it is in fact 24-year-old Brett Cecil who actually owns the New York Yankees. Cecil led the Blue Jays to a 8-3 romp of New York, picking up his Major League-leading fourth win against the Yankees in 2010 and improving to 4-0 in five starts against the Bombers this season. The win was no surprise whatsoever considering the Yankees haven’t been able to do anything of note against Cecil all year and have done nothing but struggle against slow-throwing pitchers of his ilk.

It obviously didn’t help the Yankees’ cause that they were starting soon-to-be-former-Yankee Javier Vazquez, who did his best A.J. Burnett impression in giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. The more you think about it, it’s actually pretty incredible that the Yankees ended up making it to the postseason with 40% of their Opening Day five-man rotation pitching to a 5.00-plus ERA in more than 350 innings.…

Dual overarching 2010 storylines of A.J. Burnett being terrible and Blue Jays (and Vernon Wells) positively owning Yankees collide in 7-5 laugher

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 7-5 Monday night, continuing what has been a season-long stretch of dominance over New York. The win improved the Jays’ season record against the Yankees to 9-7 (only the Rays have beaten the Yankees more times, with 10 victories), a mark that includes a 5-2 record at Rogers Centre. Unless the Yankees can win the next two games they will set a new record for futility on the road at Toronto in the Unbalanced Schedule Era, as they’d never previously won less than four games at Skydome since 2001.

Here’s some startling news: The only other time the Yankees won only two games in a season at an AL East rival’s home field since the implementation of the Unbalanced Schedule 10 years ago was last season against the Red Sox at Fenway. Let’s hope they don’t tie that particular ignominious record, although given the way the Yankees have served as Toronto’s punching bag this season (the Jays have scored 80 runs in 16 games against the Yankees this year, or 5.0 runs per game), combined with continued uninspiring play from the Bombers (who are now 11-14 in September, their highest loss total of any month of the season) I’m not sure how hopeful I am.…

Toronto hits three home runs against Phil Hughes, snaps Yankee win streak

The Yankees’ eight-game win streak came to an end today at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the long ball. Phil Hughes looked sharp in the early innings, but struggled to put hitters away with two strikes. In the first inning, after striking out Jose Bautista, Hughes gave up a two run home run to Vernon Wells on an 0-2 count. In the third inning he gave up another two run homer on an 0-2 count to Aaron Hill. It was 4-0 at that point, which would have made it more than enough to beat the Yankees today, but Toronto added three more runs for good measure, including a home run to John Buck, making it three on the day.

Brett Cecil was good but not great. He lasted 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on 102 pitches. Had Hughes been stronger that would have been enough to keep the Yankees in the game. Both young pitchers lasted at least six innings, but Hughes gave up a total of six runs over that time.…

Home Run Javy does his thing, but Marcus Thames and the bullpen beat the Toronto Extra Base Hits 7-5

The Yankees extended their win streak to an impressive eight games. Despite injuries to Nick Swisher, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are the hottest team in baseball at just the right time. The best action happened in the 7th inning. Jose Bautista proved my long-held suspicion that he’s a jerk. He suffered a ‘roid rage break down and argued a called third strike vehemently in the top of the inning, and was deservedly ejected. The pitch was a ball, but Bautista responded to the call the way Jorge Posada did on Wednesday and was given the hook. In the bottom of the inning Marcus Thames hit a no-doubter off the Zales Diamond sign in the Yankee bullpen to break a 5-5 tie and give the good guys the lead. Mariano Rivera was Mariano Rivera in the 9th.

Javier Vazquez deserves to lose his rotation spot after today. He labored to get through 4.2 innings, ultimately allowing five runs to score.…