Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey admits he's not feeling his best. There are quite a few New York Yankees who could say the same thing.
Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young winner with the Mets, makes his return to the Big Apple on Sunday when the Yankees go for the four-game sweep.
After leaving his previous start on April 18 with tightness in his neck and back, Dickey (2-3, 4.66 ERA) went six innings in Tuesday's 4-3 loss at Baltimore, yielding four runs and walking a season-high five.
The right-hander never issued more than four free passes last season when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts with the Mets."I'm definitely not 100 percent," Dickey said. "I'm giving everything I can possibly give but it feels like going to battle with a three-shooter instead of a six-shooter. You just don't have what you normally have. You feel like what you have is good enough to keep your team in it. But it's frustrating because you want to give more."
The Blue Jays (9-16) need all they can get from Dickey as they try to finish their seven-game trip with two wins. Toronto has dropped six straight and 17 of 20 in the Bronx following Saturday's 5-4 defeat."You know what, right now we're not good enough. It's that simple," said manager John Gibbons , whose team has lost a season-high three in a row.
The Yankees (14-9), meanwhile, can win a season high-tying fourth straight, a day removed from putting two more players on the disabled list. Catcher Francisco Cervelli , who broke his right hand in Friday's 6-4 win, and Ivan Nova (right triceps) were the latest additions, joining Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera.
The Yankees, though, did get Kevin Youkilis (lower back) back following a six-game absence. He went 0 for 3 with a walk.
"There's an expectation here, and I think a lot of guys feed off of that," said manager Joe Girardi , whose team rallied from a pair of deficits to improve to 5-1 against Toronto this season.
Newcomers Travis Hafner and former Blue Jay Vernon Wells are doing just that. Hafner had a three-run homer - his sixth - and a run-scoring triple on Saturday, while Wells knocked in a run for the fourth consecutive game.
"It seems like a different group of guys are stepping up every night," Hafner said.
The Yankees would like to see Phil Hughes (0-2, 5.14) do that Sunday. The right-hander has settled down nicely following two rough outings to open the season, throwing seven innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts in each of his last two appearances, most recently a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Hughes, though, did not earn a decision in either of those outings.
He went 2-2 with a 5.73 ERA in six starts against Toronto last season.
Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista , who have hit five of the Blue Jays' seven homers this series, have both gone deep off Hughes once. First baseman Adam Lind , who has two home runs against the right-hander to lead active Blue Jays, is expected to return from the paternity list on Sunday.
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano , who's batting .476 (20 for 42) during a 10-game hitting streak against Toronto, is 3 for 10 off Dickey.
Wells is 7 for 13 with two doubles against the knuckleballer.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|April 22, 2013||Maicer Izturis||Day-to-Day||Sore hamstring|
|April 14, 2013||Sergio Santos||15-Day DL||Right triceps strain|
|April 13, 2013||Jose Reyes||60-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|April 12, 2013||Jose Reyes||Day-to-Day||Sprained left ankle|
|April 11, 2013||Darren Oliver||Day-to-Day||Arm|
|April 04, 2013||Jose Bautista||Day-to-Day||Left game - Twisted ankle|
|New York Yankees|
|April 27, 2013||Francisco Cervelli||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|April 27, 2013||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right triceps inflammation|
|April 26, 2013||Ivan Nova||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow soreness|
|April 26, 2013||Francisco Cervelli||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand|
|April 22, 2013||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|April 12, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist contusion|
NEW YORK (AP) -- These no-name Yankees are making a name for themselves.
Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay homered on knuckleballs from R.A. Dickey, and New York rallied past the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 Sunday for a four-game sweep.
Despite missing injured All-Stars Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson , the Yankees are 14-5 following a 1-4 start.
"We felt like if we pitched well, we were going to get big contributions from somebody," said Phil Hughes , who pitched well but remained winless in five starts.
They just weren't sure which bodies following a run of injuries.
Boesch homered into the first row of the right-field seats in the second inning. After Toronto took a 2-1 lead on Adam Lind 's RBI single in the fourth and Maicer Izturis ' run-scoring double off the base of the right-field wall in the sixth, the Yankees overcame a deficit for the fourth straight day.
Overbay hit a two-run homer into the right field bullpen in the seventh inning that was caught on the fly by Yankees reliever David Robertson .
Boesch began the day 1 for 6 against Dickey and Overbay 1 for 14, with both hits singles.
Overbay has three home runs, one more than his total last season. He said then-teammate Matt Stairs changed his mindset on knuckleballers a few years ago.
"His approach was to just try to pull homers. Ever since I did that, I started hitting them a lot better," Overbay said. "You start trying to feel for it, and it ends up beating you. It's just a matter of taking a big, strong, aggressive hack."
New York's batting order included four players added just before or during spring training: Overbay at first base, Boesch in right field, Vernon Wells in left and Travis Hafner at designated hitter - a day after hitting a three-run homer and go-ahead triple. Other starters included Jayson Nix at third, Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and Chris Stewart behind the plate.
"It's a group that has something to prove in a sense, some guys that are older that had some down years or some injury plagued years. some younger guys that are trying to establish themselves," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You didn't know how the new guys were going to respond, number one. We knew they had been very good players before. We've seen very good players come to New York and take time to adjust. We've seen guys that have injury plagued seasons that continue to have them and you can't shake that. We felt that we were going to have to win a lot of close games."
New York is 9-1 in games decided by two runs or fewer. When spring training began, the Yankees had realized many predicted them to finish at or near last in the AL East.
"It's hard to not notice that. It's talked about so much. First meeting of spring training we talked about that," Hughes said.
"Guys around here have kind of learned to deal with a lot of negative stuff that kinds of swirls around," he said.
Without a win in his first five starts for the first time since 2008, Hughes allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings with a season-high nine strikeouts and one walk. Toronto ran up his pitch count, fouling off 25 of 111 offerings.
Boone Logan (1-1) pitched a one-hit seventh, Robertson threw a 1-2-3 eighth and Mariano Rivera finished with a perfect ninth for his ninth save in nine chances, extending his career record to 617.
Dickey (2-4) pitched in New York for the first time since getting his 20th win for the Mets last September. Dealt to Toronto after going 20-3 and winning the NL Cy Young Award, Dickey already has lost more games this year than in all of 2012.
The 38-year-old allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings, with four strikeouts and a walk. He's been slowed by soreness in his neck and back.
"If I have to battle it for a while, I'll battle it for a while until it goes away," he said. "It gets marginally better between starts. It's just that when I have to start it breaks down again."
Last-place Toronto (9-17) gave up just four hits but was swept in a four-game series in which it led every game for the first time since Sept. 19-21, 1995, at old Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays were 4 for 24 with runners in scoring position in the series and struck out 37 times, including 13 Sunday.
A favorite to win the division after bulking up its roster, Toronto is eight games under .500 in April for the first time since 2004, according to STATS.
"You want me to go out there and hit or something?" manager John Gibbons said. "I couldn't hit when I played."
NOTES: Yankees 3B-1B Kevin Youkilis was sidelined by a bad back for the sixth time in seven games and will have an MRI Monday. ... Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale was ejected for arguing in the seventh when New York's Eduardo Nunez was slow to walk to the plate after Overbay's homer. The Yankees said Nunez had something in an eye. ... Yankees CF Brett Gardner was left out of the starting lineup for the first time this season. He entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth.