The battle for the American League East between the Toronto Blue Jays (80-60) and the New York Yankees (77-62) continues today
Game 1 of the latest matchup between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees went to the good guys. The Jays hammered the Yankees 11-5 last night to take the first game of a four-game series in the Bronx. The teams return to action today in a doubleheader with Toronto sending Marco Estrada (12-8, 3.18 ERA) and Marcus Stroman (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound. New York responds with Michael Pineda (10-8, 4.15 ERA) and Ivan Nova (6-7, 4.50 ERA) getting the starts.
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Another win today will ensure the Jays finish the series with their American League East lead intact; New York will have to win the three remaining games of the series to overtake Toronto in the standings, but the odds don’t favour them.
After struggling to beat the Yankees for years, especially in New York, the Jays have dominated the their top divisional rival for the majority of the present season. Toronto leads the season series 9-4, which includes a three-game sweep of the Yankees on the road last month. They’ve outscored the Yankees 54-31 – a pretty impressive feat when you stop to consider the fact New York has the second best offence in all of baseball after Toronto.
Toronto’s meteoric rise to the top of the division rests on a spectacular second half. The Jays have gone 35-14 since the all-star break led by a pitching staff that has seen its collective ERA improve to 3.20 from 4.18. New York, in contrast has gone 29-22 over the same span with their team ERA declining slightly to 4.02 from 3.96. (Who says the addition of an all-star pitcher like David Price (15-5, 2.46 ERA) can’t make a huge difference?)
Aug 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher David Price (14) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The interesting thing is, for most of the season anyway, the Jays and the Yankees have looked very similar. In fact, I would argue New York is a less complete version of Toronto. Both teams pack a ton of offence, have good defence and can rely on their bullpens to protect leads or win games. One difference concerns the quality of their starting pitchers, but there are also no Josh Donaldsons, Jose Bautistas or Troy Tulowitzkis in New York’s lineup. It’s this abundance of high-level power hitters in Toronto’s lineup that gives them the decisive advantage: they lead the MLB with 771 runs scored this season; New York ranks second at 676.
Six games between the two teams remain on the season with two of them taking place today. Unless they suddenly fall off a cliff, Toronto should win the season series, which will aid in their quest to claim the divisional crown. Toronto last won the American League East in 1993 – the same year they last won the World Series. (You know what that means: nothing.)
Watch for Stroman to make his season debut tonight – another sign of the team’s rich pitching depth. Stroman is 2-1 in his career against New York (1-1 at Yankee Stadium). He wanted back for an exciting finish to the season; he got it.
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