It's hard to describe a series at the beginning of August as pivotal, but this one certainly feels very important. The Yankees host the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium for three games this weekend, facing off against their closest division competition with an offense that has been the best in the majors all season. New York's offense is no slouch either, recently firing off 90 runs in a ten-game stretch. Sweep the Blue Jays and the Yankees walk away with a pretty huge lead in the AL East. Get swept by the Blue Jays and everything gets a little tight around the collar.
If there is one thing to feel good about heading into this series it's that the Blue Jays have not played very well on the road this season. Their offense is tremendous at home, but not as daunting away from Rogers Centre. That's certainly good news for Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, and Masahiro Tanaka, who will be charged with keeping the Blue Jays bats in check. Eovaldi hasn't lost a game since his thumping down in Miami, but his opponent, R.A. Dickey, makes his money with the pitch that had the Yankees baffled Wednesday night against the Red Sox. It seems that knuckleballers either dominate or get totally dominated. Hopefully Dickey's fortunes are more of the latter tonight.
Toronto's big pitching addition at the trade deadline, David Price, will pitch against Nova on Saturday. The Yankees, of course, trashed Price in the snow game in Detroit at the beginning of the season. They'll have to do it without the help of the cold and snow this time if they want to beat up on him again. Marco Estrada is lined up for the final game of the series, coming off a win against the Twins in which he allowed one run over 6.2 innings. In the smallest of sample sizes, the Yankees have scored four runs off him in 4.2 career innings.
Brian McCann returns to the Yankees' lineup tonight after sitting out with knee inflammation the last two nights. Having his bat back in the lineup can only be a good thing. The rest of the lineup is exactly the same with Stephen Drew playing second base instead of Brendan Ryan, which just seems to be a coin flip these days.
If you happen to be bored while waiting on game time to arrive, I answered some questions about the Yankees for Bluebird Banter that you can check out by clicking here.
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