The Yankees will try to capitalize on a key chance to pad their lead atop the AL East on Thursday night, when they open a four-game series against the last-place Toronto Blue Jays.
New York (90-65) is 12-4 without Teixeira after he suffered a strained left calf in a loss at Baltimore earlier this month.
The Yankees did just fine without him again Wednesday, winning 8-2 at Minnesota for their ninth victory in 11 games as Rodriguez sat out after fouling a ball off his left foot in Tuesday's 5-4 loss.
Both Teixeira and Rodriguez are expected back in this series, but New York's recent success has afforded it the luxury of resting them.
The Yankees are averaging 5.5 runs while hitting .263 with 18 homers over the last 11 games, which includes last week's three-game sweep of Toronto (68-87) at home.
"I feel like we're playing our best ball now, and this is the perfect time to be doing that," said Nick Swisher , who has filled in for Teixeira at first base.
Swisher has a .353 average with four homers and 12 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak, including four hits in the series with the Blue Jays. He connected for a grand slam in last Thursday's 10-7 win to complete the sweep.
"I'm just trying to keep it warm until my boy Tex gets back," Swisher said
Swisher's impressive run is one of the reasons the Yankees hold a 1 1/2-game lead in the division on the second-place Orioles with seven games left, one more than Baltimore.
New York, however, can expand its slight lead since the Orioles are idle Thursday and open a three-game series against Boston on Friday.
Giving the ball to Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.94 ERA) against the Jays could push the Yankees further ahead.
The right-hander has won his last three starts against them behind a 2.61 ERA while holding Toronto to .192 at the plate.
That includes a 5-2 win at Rogers Centre on Aug. 11, when Nova yielded two runs and five hits with 10 strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.
He's 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts since, and is coming off the shortest start of his two-plus years in the majors. Nova was pulled with one out and the bases loaded in the third after giving up three runs and five hits in Saturday's 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland.
Toronto is returning home after concluding a 2-8 trip with a 12-2 loss at Baltimore. Its pitchers were pounded for seven homers in a game for the first time since giving up a franchise record-tying eight against Detroit on June 20, 2000.
The Blue Jays, losers of eight of 11 at Rogers Centre, are expected to turn to Brandon Morrow (8-7, 3.28), who is 1-3 with a 3.94 ERA in six starts since returning from a strained left oblique.
The right-hander struggled Saturday, giving up five runs and two homers while matching his season high with four walks in four innings of an 11-5 defeat at Tampa Bay.
Morrow is facing the Yankees for the first time this year after winning two of three meetings with a 1.74 ERA in 2011.
|New York Yankees|
|September 19, 2012||Dellin Betances||60-Day DL||Right shoulder injury|
|September 09, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|September 02, 2012||Curtis Granderson||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring tendinitis|
|August 27, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right shoulder tightness|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 16, 2012||Edwin Encarnacion||Day-to-Day||Sore right big toe|
|September 04, 2012||J.A. Happ||60-Day DL||Fractured right foot|
|August 27, 2012||Henderson Alvarez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin contusion|
|August 27, 2012||Aaron Laffey||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf contusion|
|August 26, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 23, 2012||David Cooper||15-Day DL||Upper back soreness|
TORONTO (AP) -- Ivan Nova didn't do much to help his case for a spot in the Yankees' potential playoff rotation. If anything, he made New York's path to the postseason a little tougher.
Brandon Morrow and two relievers combined on a five-hitter, pitching the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-0 victory over Nova and the Yankees on Thursday night that trimmed New York's lead in the tight AL East.
Edwin Encarnacion had three hits and three RBIs. Brett Lawrie hit a two-run homer and J.P. Arencibia added a solo shot as the Blue Jays handed an assist to idle Baltimore, shaving New York's division lead over the Orioles to one game.
The Yankees lost for the third time in five games and wasted a chance to go two up with six to play.
"We know what's at stake right now and we've just got to go out there and keep picking up wins," Nick Swisher said. "We've got a little six-game playoff race."
Making his third start since missing 14 games with a sore right shoulder, Nova (12-8) allowed four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out four.
"I'm not pitching the way I want and I'm not getting the result I want, so that's not good," Nova said.
Knocked out in the third inning of his previous start, Nova has not won back-to-back outings since a five-start winning streak from May 25 to June 17. The 87 extra-base hits off him are the most yielded by any big league pitcher.
"He just hasn't had the command, that's the bottom line," manager Joe Girardi said.
Nova insisted he's not worried about his future in New York's rotation, but acknowledged his struggles are starting to wear on him.
"Especially right now, the position we're in, I'm not feeling good about it," he said. "We want to win every day and I'm not doing that."
Morrow (9-7) scattered four hits over seven innings, walked three and struck out three to win for the first time in five starts.
Swisher said Morrow kept the Yankees off balance with an assortment of off-speed pitches, not just a blazing fastball.
"It didn't seem like he was really raring back tonight," Swisher said. "It felt like he was pitching. He was throwing a lot more cutters than I remember, a lot more changeups, breaking balls, things like that, rather than that flat 96 (mph). He did a good job."
Yankees catcher Russell Martin said Morrow was aggressive in the strike zone.
"Every time you're in there it feels like you're behind in the count," Martin said.
It was Morrow's longest outing since returning from the disabled list Aug. 25 after missing 65 games with a strained muscle in his left side.
"You always want to try and finish up strong," Morrow said. "It takes a little while to get back into a groove (after an injury) but I've felt good the whole time."
Brad Lincoln worked the eighth and Darren Oliver finished for the Blue Jays, who have won three of four following a seven-game losing streak.
Morrow got some help from his defense after Robinson Cano 's one-out single in the fourth. Rookie left fielder Anthony Gose crashed into the wall to haul in a deep drive from Swisher, then threw the ball into second baseman Kelly Johnson , who doubled off Cano at first.
"(Cano) probably got a little bit too far, but it's a great play by Gose," Girardi said.
Cano doubled to begin the seventh and Swisher walked but Morrow fanned Curtis Granderson , then got Martin and Raul Ibanez to fly out.
Nova ran into trouble after walking Gose to begin the fourth. Lawrie followed with an opposite-field homer to right, his 10th of the season and first since July 22.
Gose led off with a single in the fifth, went to second on Lawrie's groundout and moved to third on a bunt single by Colby Rasmus . That brought up Encarnacion, who drove in both runners with a double into the right-field corner.
Even with the infield drawn in, New York couldn't stop Toronto from making it 5-0 against Derek Lowe in the seventh when Lawrie scored on Encarnacion's grounder to shortstop. Arencibia capped the scoring with a second-deck homer off David Aardsma in the eighth, his 18th.
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was greeted with a smattering of boos during his first home game since wearing eye-black with an anti-gay slur. A few fans booed when Escobar's name was announced as the lineups were read before the game. There was a mix of boos and cheers as Escobar batted in the bottom of the first, lining out on Nova's first pitch.
"The three years I've been here in Toronto the fans have been great to me," Escobar said through a translator. "They know how hard I work and I give everything on the field. I made a mistake. I'm sorry for it."
Escobar's subsequent at-bats drew almost no reaction from the crowd of 23,060.
NOTES: New York OF Brett Gardner , who came off the 60-day DL this week after missing 142 games with a strained right elbow, took part in two sets of batting practice before the game. It's the first time he's taken BP since rejoining the team. ... Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez , who did not play in Wednesday's victory at Minnesota, started at DH. Jayson Nix was at third base. Girardi said Rodriguez could return to third base during this series, possibly Friday. Rodriguez went 0 for 2 and has one hit in his last 16 at-bats. ... New York 1B Mark Teixeira (strained left calf) had seven at-bats in a simulated game and will do the same Friday or Saturday, Girardi said. ... Aardsma pitched in a major league game for the first time since Sept. 19, 2010. He missed the past two seasons following hip and elbow operations.