Coming off consecutive victories against a playoff contender, the New York Yankees have built some momentum that might help them end their recent struggles in Toronto.
The AL East-leading Yankees look to win three in a row for the first time in three weeks Friday night as they try to avoid a fourth straight road loss to the Blue Jays.
New York (65-46) dropped the first two of a four-game set in Detroit before breaking out for a 12-8 victory Wednesday, then rallying to win 4-3 on Thursday. Trailing by a run in the eighth inning of the finale, Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez hit back-to-back homers to help the Yankees snap an eight-game skid in one-run games.
"I'm extremely happy for what our guys accomplished," said manager Joe Girardi , who was ejected for arguing a fair-or-foul call in the fifth.
Winners in five of eight after losing nine of their previous 12, the Yankees last won three straight July 16-18, sweeping a home set against Toronto.
The banged-up Blue Jays (53-58) have lost nine of 11 overall after being swept in three games at Tampa Bay this week, but they've outscored New York 15-2 while winning three straight at home in the series. The Yankees lost twice at Rogers Centre in May to fall to 7-14 in their last 21 north of the border.
Chavez went 9 for 16 with two home runs and five RBIs this week in Detroit, but he's 3 for 28 with a homer in his last 11 games against the Blue Jays.
Teixeira has batted .172 (5 for 29) with one RBI in his last seven at Toronto, although he homered at home July 18 against scheduled Toronto starter Ricky Romero .
The left-hander lost that game 6-0, allowing six runs and 12 hits in six innings of the rain-shortened defeat. He has posted a 7.13 ERA while losing three consecutive starts against the Yankees.
Romero (8-8, 5.47 ERA) had lost seven straight starts overall - with a 9.44 ERA in that stretch - before a strong outing Saturday at Oakland. He yielded one run and three hits in seven innings, but Toronto needed 11 innings to win 3-1, so Romero still hasn't won since June 22.
He has certainly struggled at times, but his teammates share the blame. Toronto has totaled one run in Romero's 32 1-3 innings over his last six outings.
"It's not a good feeling for anybody," first baseman Edwin Encarnacion said after Thursday's 7-1 loss. "It's hard to have four players hurt like we do. We have to do the best we can."
Encarnacion hit .189 (7 for 37) during Toronto's 2-8 trip, but he's 7 for 19 (.368) with four doubles and a homer against the Yankees in 2012. He's 2 for 6 with four walks versus scheduled starter Freddy Garcia (5-5, 5.00).
The 35-year-old right-hander got his 150th career win and snapped a three-start skid Sunday when he allowed two runs in five innings of a 6-2 win over Seattle.
"For me, it's another win," said Garcia, 3-5 with a 6.09 ERA in 11 starts this season. "Hopefully, more are coming."
It would be a rarity for Garcia to earn a win in Toronto, where he's 0-5 with a 9.42 ERA in six starts since winning there Sept. 7, 2000, with Seattle.
|New York Yankees|
|July 25, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Non-displaced fracture in left hand|
|July 25, 2012||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Strained left hip flexor|
|July 24, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left hand fracture|
|June 28, 2012||Andy Pettitte||60-Day DL||Fractured left ankle - out 6-8 weeks|
|June 27, 2012||Andy Pettitte||Day-to-Day||Fractured left ankle - out 6-8 weeks|
|June 25, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 04, 2012||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 03, 2012||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Left game - rib cage tightness|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|July 26, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||15-Day DL||Broken right hand|
|July 26, 2012||Adam Lind||15-Day DL||Mid-back strain|
|July 25, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
TORONTO (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki is hardly awed by playing for baseball's most famous franchise. Sometimes, he doesn't even remember he's a Yankee.
Suzuki matched a career high with five RBIs and Freddy Garcia won in Toronto for the first time in more than a decade, leading New York to a 10-4 victory Friday night over the injury-riddled Blue Jays.
Mark Teixeira hit his 22nd homer to help the AL East leaders win their third consecutive game and snap a three-game skid at Rogers Centre. New York had not won three straight since sweeping Toronto at Yankee Stadium from July 16-18.
"It seems like we're starting to pick it up a little bit," catcher Russell Martin said.
Starting in center field for the first time in four years, Suzuki drove in five runs for the first time since Aug. 17, 2004, with Seattle against Kansas City.
"There's always an expectation here, whether it's fair or not, that when you get traded here you're supposed to really come and help," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Some guys are going to feel that heat and I don't think it's really bothered him."
The 10-time All-Star hasn't had trouble trying to live up to the Yankee mystique.
"Sometimes I get up to the plate and they say, `Playing left field, Ichiro Suzuki for the Yankees,"' he said through a translator. "It kind of takes me a while to remember, `Oh yeah, I am on the Yankees."'
Whether Suzuki remembers who he plays for or not, Martin is happy to have him as a teammate.
"He has a knack for finding ways to get on base," Martin said. "He kind of solidifies the bottom of our lineup."
With center fielder Curtis Granderson getting a rest, Suzuki handled all three balls hit to him.
"It had been a while so I was a little nervous, but there were no tough balls at me today," he said. "Everything went well."
Garcia (6-5) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings to win back-to-back starts for the second time this season. He also did it July 7 at Boston and July 14 against the Angels.
Garcia, who walked none and struck out four, retired his final eight batters and won in Toronto for the first time since Sept. 17, 2000, with Seattle. The right-hander came in 0-5 with a 9.42 ERA in six starts since his last victory north of the border.
"I hate this ballpark," Garcia said. "I think baseball should be played on regular grass. Sometimes you get a routine groundball and it's a double."
Hit hard in April and eventually bumped from the rotation, Garcia has given up three runs or fewer in seven of his past eight starts. Martin said improved velocity is one reason.
"When his velocity is up most of his other pitches are crisper," Martin said. "That's really the big difference. His velocity was down when he was getting banged around a little bit and now that he's gotten velocity back, he's much better."
Ricky Romero lost for the eighth time in nine starts as Toronto dropped its fourth straight and was beaten for the 10th time in 12 games.
"It's not easy what we're going through right now," Romero said.
Romero (8-9) gave up three runs, two earned, and four hits in seven innings but remained winless since June 22 at Miami. He is 0-8 with a 7.26 ERA in nine starts since.
The Blue Jays returned home after going 2-8 on a three-city trip that began with a sweep in Seattle and ended with a sweep at Tampa Bay. They opened a 10-game homestand, their longest of the season, against the AL's three division leaders in New York, Chicago and Texas.
Kelly Johnson homered and hit an RBI double for Toronto.
Suzuki had an RBI grounder in the second, a two-run single in the eighth and a two-run double in the ninth.
Teixeira gave the Yankees a 4-2 advantage when he homered into the second deck in right on reliever Steve Delabar 's first pitch of the eighth. New York piled on after that, with Martin reaching on a bloop single that hit Johnson in the head and Suzuki following with a two-run single.
Martin said he'd never seen a play like his looper that dropped over Johnson's glove and struck him on the side of his hat.
"I hit it off the cap so it probably had some weird spin on it," Martin said. "It obviously did something funny. It was not his most glorious moment, that's for sure."
NOTES: Toronto OF Colby Rasmus left after eight innings with tightness in his right groin and is day to day. ... New York 3B Alex Rodriguez (left hand) took one-handed swings off a tee. ... Suzuki has played all three outfield positions since joining the Yankees. "If they say, `You have to play catcher,' I'd probably say no," Suzuki joked. ... After speaking with MLB vice president Joe Torre , Girardi will not be suspended for his ejection and tirade Thursday at Detroit. ... The Blue Jays claimed RHP Juan Abreu off waivers from Houston and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Toronto RHP Drew Hutchison (elbow) and RHP Dustin McGowan (shoulder) both had surgery Thursday. ... Recalled from Triple-A before the game, RHP David Carpenter was optioned back to the minors after giving up four runs in his Toronto debut. INF Mike McCoy was recalled from Las Vegas to take his place.