Yankees lineup vs. Blue Jays, Preston Claiborne returns

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Claiborne returns to the Yankees in place of Jayson Nix as the Yankees go for the four-game sweep.

The Yankees try to complete the four-game sweep of the Blue Jays this afternoon and draw closer to the Wild Card-leading Oakland Athletics. The Yankees currently sit four games back of Oakland, who is playing against the fellow Wild Card contender Orioles (three games back) tonight in Baltimore. A win would also help the Yankees gain half a game on the Indians (2.5 games back), who have the night off. Here's the lineup the Yanks will send out against Toronto lefty J.A. Happ:

Joe Girardi is giving Brett Gardner the day off after he had a half-day off yesterday at DH. That seems kind of strange, but oh well. It's worth noting that Gardner has appeared in all but two of 126 games for the Yankees this year in a season immediately following an injury-shortened campaign, so perhaps it's for the best that he receives some rest. He's been scuffling at the plate lately at 6-for-his-last-35 and 10-for-50 since his three-hit game against Detroit on August 9th. Vernon Wells gets DH duties with the lefty on the hill and Ichiro Suzuki actually makes a start against a southpaw. Ichiro's been hitting .348/.356/.462 this year against lefties, so he really shouldn't be riding the bench when they pitch anyway.

Curtis Granderson faces Happ in his first appearance against him since the latter broke the former's arm at the start of Spring Training. Hopefully, Granderson will get some sweet revenge with some big hits. Alex Rodriguez returns to the lineup after a day off yesterday, Mark Reynolds plays first in place of the lefty-neutralized Lyle Overbay, Chris Stewart starts over Austin Romine (sigh), and Eduardo Nunez plays shortstop with no obvious backup behind him. Star Ledger writer Andy McCullough thinks that Robinson Cano would be the backup in an emergency, but hopefully it does not come to that. (Although it might be cool to thus see Alfonso Soriano possibly back at second for a brief moment before realizing how much of a butcher he was at the position. Also, Vernon Wells lobbied to be the emergency shortstop. Dwell on that for a moment.)

The reason Nunez has no real backup is that reliever Preston Claiborne was recalled to replace the injured Jayson Nix on the 25-man roster. It makes some sense since the Yankees badly needed bullpen help after burning both of their long relievers yesterday. Andy Pettitte is far from a guarantee to pitch deep in the game, so Sir Preston's services might be needed. It's unlikely that we will see Mariano Rivera today after he appeared three times in two days, so if the game is close, expect to see David Robertson as the closer. D-Rob has pitched just one inning since Sunday night, so he should be fine.

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