With the drama surrounding New York's third baseman unlikely to go away anytime soon, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees are trying to keep their focus on the field.
New York tries to keep rolling in Tuesday's doubleheader against the last-place Toronto Blue Jays, losers of nine straight in the Bronx.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez has given the Yankees (64-59) a huge left since coming off the disabled list Aug. 5, going 12 for 32 (.375) with two homers and six RBIs during the club's 6-2 run.
Rodriguez came up especially big in Sunday's 9-6 win at Boston. After getting hit by a Ryan Dempster fastball in the second inning, Rodriguez responded with his 649th career homer in the sixth to spark a four-run rally.
"Whether you like me or hate me, what's wrong is wrong. That was unprofessional and silly," he said of getting plunked. "Today kind of brought us together."
Besides his suspension, Rodriguez is at odds with Yankees management over the more than $80 million he is owned through 2017. Rodriguez's lawyer also declined Major League Baseball's challenge to make public evidence that led to the slugger's suspension.
"I'm not sure how I would feel if I was on a different team, but Alex is my teammate and obviously I'm glad to have him back in the room," Brett Gardner told MLB's official website. "We know that we're at a point in the season where we've got to play every game like it's our last."
The Yankees try to take advantage of playing the Blue Jays (57-67) in New York, where they've won 18 of 20, including nine straight by a 47-25 margin. They've also won 19 of 25 in the series overall.
Toronto dropped two of three at Tampa Bay over the weekend, falling 2-1 in 10 innings on Sunday. Edwin Encarnacion hit his team-leading 31st homer, but the Blue Jays suffered their seventh walkoff loss and eighth in extras.
"If you're going to play in prime time, you've got to win those games," manager John Gibbons said.
Taking the mound for New York in Game 1 is Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.99 ERA), who is 4-2 with a 1.89 ERA in his last seven starts. The right-hander allowed a season-high 10 hits but managed to limit the damage Wednesday, yielding three runs in 7 1-3 innings in an 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels .
Nova, 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA in four career home starts versus Toronto, will square off against Esmil Rogers (3-7, 4.91). The right-hander had posted a 14.59 ERA in losing a season-high three consecutive starts before throwing six innings of one-run ball in Wednesday's 4-3, 10-inning win over Boston.
The Yankees hope to see Phil Hughes (4-12, 4.97) get back on track in Game 2. The right-hander is looking to snap a career-worst five-game skid after yielding three runs in six innings in Thursday's 8-4 loss to the Angels.
Mark Buehrle (9-7, 4.29), meanwhile, has gone 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA over a five-start stretch. He allowed 10 hits but only gave up one run in seven innings in a 2-1 win over Boston on Thursday.
"I'm just trying to get on a roll right now," he said. "I'm going out there trying to compete and trying to win."
Buehrle has gone 1-10 versus New York while compiling a 6.28 ERA - his highest mark against any team. He was tagged for five runs in six innings in a 5-0 road loss May 17, dropping to 0-8 with an 8.01 ERA in his last 11 starts against the Yankees.
Rodriguez is 8 for 33 with just one extra-base hit against Buehrle.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 17, 2013||Jose Reyes||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 12, 2013||Colby Rasmus||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|August 10, 2013||Juan Perez||60-Day DL||Torn UCL ligament, left elbow|
|August 07, 2013||Josh Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|August 03, 2013||Steve Delabar||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 02, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee strain|
|New York Yankees|
|August 03, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 03, 2013||Derek Jeter||Day-to-Day||Calf|
|July 27, 2013||Travis Hafner||15-Day DL||Strained right rotator cuff|
|July 23, 2013||Luis Cruz||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|July 20, 2013||Zoilo Almonte||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|July 19, 2013||Zoilo Almonte||Day-to-Day||Left game - left ankle sprain|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jayson Nix thinks it's a whole lot easier to get good pitches to hit now that the Yankees are getting some of their stars back in the lineup.
Nix hit a tying homer in the seventh inning and a game-ending single in the ninth, lifting New York to its second comeback victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, 3-2 in the nightcap for a split doubleheader sweep.
In the opener, Robinson Cano and Chris Stewart each hit three-run homers to rally the Yankees from four runs down to beat the Blue Jays 8-4.
"I feel like we've had a little bit of a jolt in our team and we're playing really well right now," Nix said. "I think Sori ( Alfonso Soriano ) coming over here, first off, brings a whole lot of energy to the team. ... and then Al ( Alex Rodriguez ) coming as well and playing good. I feel like as a whole the team's playing a lot better. I think we all feel pretty good for this final push."
Cano had an RBI single in the second game and had six hits and five RBIs in the two games for New York, which has won eight of 10 and is 9-6 since Alex Rodriguez returned on Aug. 5.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista made an early exit in the opener and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his left hip. He says he was initially injured trying to score about two weeks ago.
"I am about 70 percent," Bautista said. "I don't think I am doing the team any favors playing with it right now."
Manager John Gibbons said Bautista will rest for two weeks then be evaluated before the next step is planned.
Ichiro Suzuki singled and doubled in the first game, leaving him one shy of 4,000 combined hits during his careers in Japan and the major leagues. With fans standing and chanting "Ichi-ro!" in the eighth, he grounded out.
Suzuki pinch ran in the night game and scored the winning run.
With a full moon hanging over the right field rafters, Darren Oliver (3-4) walked Mark Reynolds to start the ninth.
Suzuki pinch ran and advanced on Eduardo Nunez 's sacrifice bunt. Suzuki stole third, which forced Toronto to bring the infield in. He scored on Nix's line drive to left.
"It changes it a lot. It makes my job a lot easier," Nix said of Suzuki's 18th stolen base.
Mariano Rivera (4-2) worked out of a two-on jam in the top of the ninth for the win. Anthony Gose failed to get down a sacrifice bunt in the inning.
"He has to get that bunt down," Gibbons said. "Maybe it would have made a difference."
The Blue Jays extended their record with an 11th straight loss in New York.
Mark Buehrle was on track to end an eight-decision losing streak to New York but he gave up a tying homer in the seventh to Nix, the infielder's first homer since June 25th.
Nix was the Yankees' second unlikely long ball hitter of the day. Stewart connected off Neil Wagner (2-4) in the sixth inning for his first homer since May 15 - that's 173 homerless at-bats - to put New York ahead in the opener.
Just 1-10 in his career against the Yankees, the left-hander shut down a rejuvenated lineup by allowing two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out Rodriguez all three times he faced him.
During the afternoon game, Major League Baseball announced Yankees manager Joe Girardi was fined $5,000 for his on-field tirade after Boston's Ryan Dempster hit Rodriguez with a pitch on Sunday. Dempster was suspended five games and fined $2,500.
Girardi refused to comment on the suspension and fines but did reiterate what he said earlier in the day, that he's worried a light penalty would encourage "open season" on Rodriguez.
"We'll find out," Girardi said. "I sure hope not."
In the opener, Rodriguez singled to start the sixth - to cheers - and he scored on Stewart's fourth homer of the season, a shot to left field off Wagner that put New York ahead 6-4.
But Rodriguez struck out five times in the doubleheader in seven at-bats. He came up with two on in the eighth inning of the late game, but grounded into a double play.
"I wasn't sure what we'd get the second game in a sense. It's the first time he probably had to play two games in one day, but I'm OK with everything," Girardi said.
Rajai Davis had a two-run double in the first game, and was responsible for the Blue Jays' first two runs in Game 2. He scored on Phil Hughes ' wild pitch in the first inning and had a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning to put Toronto up 2-1.
In the opener, Cano got his 200th career home run off Esmil Rogers in the third and had four hits. His drive in the third pulled New York to 4-3 after Toronto went up 4-0 in the second against Ivan Nova (7-4). Cano added an RBI double in the seventh.
Nova allowed four runs in the second inning when Toronto batted around in the makeup of a rained-out game on May 19.
Kevin Pillar got his first big league hit in the night game - in his 18th at-bat, a liner over a leaping Cano.
Cano tossed the ball to the Blue Jays dugout and Jose Reyes pretended to throw it into the crowd. Pillar stood on first smiling broadly. The 24-year-old from California went 0 for 4 in the opener but got his first RBI.
NOTES: Hughes gave up two runs in six innings. ... Suzuki has 1,278 hits in Japan and 2,721 in the majors. ... Yankees SS Derek Jeter (right calf strain) played his second simulated game at the team's complex in Tampa, Fla. He ran the bases for the first time. ... Blue Jays RHP Thad Weber was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Monday, but was recalled as the 26th man for the doubleheader. ... The Yankees held a high-level meeting at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., focused on improving player development and amateur scouting. Among those in attendance were managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman and vice president of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer.