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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, June 18 (All times Eastern)
Toronto Blue Jays (41-31) at New York Yankees (36-33), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - Mark Buehrle (10-3, 2.28) New York - Chase Whitley (2-0, 2.41)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Having lost consecutive starts for the first time this season, Toronto hurler Mark Buehrle watched on Tuesday as New York rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka passed him for the major league lead in victories.
Buehrle will now try to join Tanaka in the 11-win club on Wednesday and even the Blue Jays' three-game series with the AL East-rival Yankees.
The resurgent Buehrle picked up his 10th win of the season on June 1, but followed up with a tough-luck 5-0 setback to St. Louis six days later as he was charged with just one run over seven innings.
The lefty then struggled a bit in a 4-2 setback to Baltimore on Thursday, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk in 6 1/3 frames. The loss dropped Buehrle to 10-3 on the year with a 2.28 earned run average.
"There were times I made a lot of mistakes, and they made me pay for them," Buehrle told Toronto's official website, "and then I made a few good pitches, and they put the ball in play and got some base hits."
Buehrle will need to avoid the mistakes tonight given his history with the Yankees. The 35-year-old has made 16 prior starts against them, going a mere 1-10 with a 6.02 ERA.
Tanaka secured his major league-leading 11th victory with last night's 3-1 victory, settling down from allowing a solo homer to Jose Reyes on the game's first pitch to shut down the Blue Jays for the rest of his six-inning performance.
Tanaka struck out 10 batters and moved in line for the victory following Brett Gardner's two-run homer off Toronto hurler Marcus Stroman in the third inning. Tanaka lowered his ERA to an AL-best 1.99 and he is second in the league with 113 strikeouts.
"What he's done is remarkable," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi of Tanaka. "He has been a big part of our success this year and continues to grind out starts, make adjustments and give us distance. He wins."
Derek Jeter and Kelly Johnson each had two hits and a run scored to help New York halt a two-game skid with its fifth victory in seven games. The Yankees also moved to within 3 1/2 games of the Blue Jays for first place in the AL East.
With Tanaka leading the charge, Toronto hitters fanned a total of 15 times on the evening en route to their 14th consecutive defeat at Yankee Stadium, the longest active streak by one team at a particular venue.
Stroman allowed just two runs, but lasted only 3 2/3 innings while throwing 98 pitches in Toronto's seventh loss in 10 games.
"We had some good at-bats, we hit some balls hard early on, and then it just disappeared," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons remarked. "(Tanaka) pretty much shut us down. But he's good. There's a reason he's doing what he's doing."
New York's 14-game home winning streak over the Jays is the longest by one team over another since Toronto topped Baltimore 16 straight times at Rogers Centre from 2009-11.
The Yankees hope to extend that run tonight behind Chase Whitley, who takes the mound four days after his 25th birthday.
Whitley opened his major league career with four straight no-decisions, failing to pitch longer than five innings in any of those outings. However, the righty has improved on that in back-to-back wins, logging seven frames to beat Kansas City on June 6 before pitching 7 2/3 innings in a 6-3 win over Seattle on Thursday.
Whitley held the Mariners to a pair of runs on five hits while striking out six to zero walks, giving him a 2.41 ERA heading into his first ever meeting with the Blue Jays.
Toronto is expected to have center fielder Colby Rasmus back in the lineup tonight for the first time since May 12 as he returns from a strained right hamstring.
Rasmus, hitting .222 with nine homers and 19 RBI in 37 games, made his sixth and final rehab appearance on Tuesday with Triple-A Buffalo.
06/18 10:31:48 ET