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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, August 22nd (All times Eastern)

Toronto Blue Jays (57-70) at New York Yankees (67-59), 1:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - J.A. Happ (3-2, 4.93) New York - Andy Pettitte (8-9, 4.39)

(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees are starting to make things interesting.

On Thursday, they'll try to get even closer in the American League playoff race, as the Yankees attempt to complete a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

New York beat the Jays for the 12th straight time in the Bronx on Wednesday, as Alfonso Soriano's tie-breaking two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the Yanks to a 4-2 victory in a game that saw Ichiro Suzuki collect the 4,000th hit of his professional career.

Suzuki joined legends Pete Rose and Ty Cobb as the only players to reach the 4,000-hit milestone with a first-inning single off R.A. Dickey, his lone hit in four at-bats. Of that total, 2,722 have come during his 13-year career in the majors and 1,278 were recorded while playing nine years in his native Japan.

"It's a testament to how hard he's worked, how long he's been in the game, how he stays healthy, the way he goes about his business," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Suzuki reaching the milestone. "He's a great player and he's been a great player for a long time."

Soriano's blast gave the Yankees their fourth straight overall triumph and ninth in 11 games, and improved their record to 11-1 against Toronto this season. The Jays are now just 2-21 over their last 23 visits to Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees also moved within four games of the final wild card spot in the AL. They're also 6 1/2 behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

The homer also made a winner of David Huff (1-0), who tossed five scoreless innings of one-hit ball in relief of starter Adam Warren.

Dickey (9-12) went the distance in defeat, permitting just six hits and striking out nine despite allowing all four runs.

It may not get any easier for the Jays on Thursday, as they go up against lefty Andy Pettitte, who is 23-12 lifetime versus Toronto with a 4.09 ERA in 45 games (44 starts).

"It was one of those nights where everything was working and you'd hope you'd be able to get through the game like I did," Pettitte said. "My curve was working, my two-seamer, I was locating that to both sides of the plate. My four-seamer also. [Chris Stewart ] called a great game."

Pettitte won for the first time in six starts on Friday in Boston, as he allowed just three unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings to run his record to 8-9, while lowering his ERA to 4.39.

Toronto, meanwhile, will counter with a southpaw of its own in J.A. Happ, who won for the first time since April 12 on Saturday. Happ, of course, missed two months after getting hit in the head with a line drive, but has allowed just three runs in 12 1/3 innings in two starts since returning.

Happ, who is 2-0 in four starts versus the Yankees, returned to the scene of where he was hit on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays and beat them, holding them to a two runs and five hits in 5 1/3 frames to run his record to 3-2 to go along with a 4.93 ERA.

"To me, that's over with," Happ said. "I feel like I missed so much time. To me, it seemed like it took forever to get back."

Toronto hasn't won in the Bronx since Aug. 29 of last season.

08/22 10:23:43 ET

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