American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, September 20th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Blue Jays (66-81) at New York Yankees (85-63), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - Aaron Laffey (3-5, 4.55) New York - Phil Hughes (15-12, 3.96)
(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees turn to Phil Hughes on Thursday evening when they try to maintain sole possession of first place in the AL East with a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Thanks to a rain out the previous day in the series opener, the Yankees went into Wednesday's doubleheader with the Blue Jays tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the top spot in the division.
Though the Orioles won their game on Wednesday, the Yankees took a half-game edge over the club for first place by sweeping the doubleheader with the Blue Jays. New York can stretch that advantage to a full game with a victory tonight or fall back into a tie with a loss as Baltimore is idle.
Ichiro Suzuki was the star of Wednesday, going a combined 7-for-8 in the two games. He backed five scoreless innings from Andy Pettitte in a 4-2 victory in the first game with three hits and a pair of runs scored before adding another four hits in the nightcap, including the deciding RBI single in the eighth inning of a 2-1 win.
Suzuki added four steals in the second game as New York won its fourth game in a row.
"I don't know if you ever imagine a guy going 7-for-8 in a day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Suzuki. "He's just a heads-up player and you saw a lot of it today."
The second game also featured a bit of history after Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the first with a single for his 200th hit of the season. He matched Lou Gehrig's franchise record be reaching the mark for the eighth time in his career.
Hughes takes the hill tonight aiming to win a third straight start. He is coming off a scoreless outing at the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, scattering five hits and a walk over 7 1/3 inning. The righty also struck out seven, improving to 15-12 with a 3.96 earned run average in 29 starts this year.
Hughes, 26, is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA in four previous meetings with the Blue Jays in 2012. He has limited the club to a mere three runs over 14 innings in the two outings at home.
Aaron Laffey counters for the Blue Jays, who have lost six of eight, and hasn't picked up a win since Aug. 5. The lefty has gone 0-3 in seven appearances since, five of those starts.
Laffey lasted just 3 2/3 innings in a start versus Boston on Friday, charged with three runs on four hits and three walks in a no-decision. He is 3-5 with a 4.55 ERA in 19 games (13 starts) this season.
"I lost it there for a little bit," Blue Jays starter Aaron Laffey said. "I was just not getting the job done."
The 27-year-old, who made 11 appearances with the Yankees last season, is 0-2 with a 9.56 ERA in five career meetings with New York, two of those starts. Laffey yielded two runs over 2 2/3 frames of a relief appearance on Aug. 27, just over two weeks after getting drilled for five runs in 5 2/3 frames of a home loss to the Yankees in a start.
New York has won eight of its 13 meetings versus Toronto this season.
09/20 10:28:39 ET