Two teams trending in opposite directions meet Tuesday night when the visiting Toronto Blue Jays begin a three-game series against the surging New York Yankees.
Toronto has lost six in a row while the Yankees are riding a season-high six-game winning streak.
Yankees starters have held opponents scoreless for 35 consecutive innings, a stretch that started with Corey Kluber’s no-hitter at Texas last Wednesday.
Kluber takes the mound again on Tuesday against a Toronto team looking to regroup after being swept in four games by Tampa Bay.
After serving as one of the team’s strengths early this season, Toronto’s bullpen struggled on Sunday and again in Monday’s 11-inning, 14-8 loss. Three relievers allowed nine runs (seven earned) in the final two frames of the series finale.
“They’ve been so good, and they’re going to struggle once in a while when you play close games,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That’s going to happen and that’s what’s been happening lately, but, man, I trust them and they’re going to be all right.”
Toronto pitchers face a stiff test against the Yankees, who swept a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox over the weekend.
Right fielder Aaron Judge has reached base safely in 15 straight games while batting .457 (21 for 46) with five homers and eight RBIs over that stretch.
“We’re just thinking less and just playing ball,” Judge said. “I feel like during the season, you can have 20,000 meetings, 20,000 scouting this and that. But when it comes down to it, you got to go out and play.
“I think these past couple of weeks, we’ve really just done our homework then gone and had some fun,” he added. “When we’re confident, we’re a dangerous team.”
The Yankees have also received a boost from shortstop Gleyber Torres, who has raised his batting average to .282 with 11 hits in his last 18 at-bats in the past five games.
Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (strained left quadriceps) is eligible to come off the injured list on Tuesday, but manager Aaron Boone said Sunday the team is still monitoring his status.
Toronto starter Steven Matz (5-2, 4.69) is looking to bounce back after giving up five runs on 10 hits over six innings in last Thursday’s 8-7 loss to Boston.
The 29-year-old left-hander owns a 1-3 record and 6.83 ERA over seven career games (five starts) versus the Yankees, all as a member of the New York Mets.
The Yankees will turn to Kluber, whose first career no-hitter featured just one baserunner, a four-pitch walk in the third inning. It is already his third start of the year against Toronto; he went five innings in a 5-3 Yankees win on April 3, and just four in a 5-4 loss on April 14.
Since then, however, he has been a different pitcher, winning his last four decisions, and the Yankees have won the last five times he has taken the hill.
The 35-year-old right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.47 ERA in eight career games against the Blue Jays.
Toronto’s Marcus Semien has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the past month. He has reached base in 29 of his last 30 games while batting .339 with eight homers and 23 RBIs over that stretch.
First baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered twice in Monday’s loss to Tampa Bay, and now leads the American League with 15 home runs. During Toronto’s 10-game homestand, he hit .415 (17-for-41) with seven homers and 13 RBIs.
The Blue Jays played their final game at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., on Monday and now begin a six-game road trip. Beginning June 1, the team’s home games will be played at Sahlen Field, home of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
–Field Level Media