Sports Baseball

On Deck: Yankees at Blue Jays

By Donald Duench, Toronto Sun

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge drops his batting helmet after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays to end the third inning of a baseball game July 29, 2017, in New York. (JULIE JACOBSON/AP)

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge drops his batting helmet after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays to end the third inning of a baseball game July 29, 2017, in New York. (JULIE JACOBSON/AP)

NEW YORK YANKEES at TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Probable starting pitchers

TUESDAY 7:07 p.m.
LHP CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)
This is a rematch of a Fourth of July game at Yankee Stadium, which the Blue Jays won 4-1, knocking out Sabathia after 2.2 innings. Sabathia hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a game since June 7.

WEDNESDAY 7:07 p.m.
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA) vs. RHP Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)
Tanaka’s 10 losses this season are the most of his four-year MLB career, but two of his eight wins in 2017 have come against the Blue Jays.

THURSDAY 7:07 p.m.
RHP Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)
Gray allowed four runs, two earned, in six innings in his Yankees debut on Thursday against Cleveland. That was his only game since facing the Blue Jays on July 25 as a member of the Athletics.

TOP 3 STORYLINES

1. Skipper sits Sanchez
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez can hit (17 homers, 52 RBIs, .827 OPS this season), but his receiving skills (10 errors, and a MLB-worst 12 passed balls) need to get better, especially after a poor game Friday. Manager Joe Girardi, himself a former catcher, used Sanchez as DH on Saturday, kept him on the bench Sunday, and let media members know Sunday that Sanchez has been told to improve his defence.

2. Arms aplenty
The Yankees were active before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, especially to supplement a pitching staff that already was strong. They added starters Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. The starters help to cover the loss off Michael Pineda to elbow surgery, and allowed the Yankees to manage rookie Jordan Montgomery’s innings total by sending him to triple-A on Sunday. Their team ERA since the all-star break (2.92) is lowest in the AL.

3. Holliday in? No, Holliday out
Yankees DH Matt Holliday was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday because of a left lumbar strain. The lower back injury happened during a swing on Friday. He also missed two weeks in early July because of a viral infection. OF Aaron Hicks (right oblique strain) is on a rehab assignment and could be coming off the DL soon, but Girardi suggests he won’t be playing in Toronto.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

OF Nori Aoki, Blue Jays
Recently acquired from Houston — and then homering against the Astros on Sunday — the 35-year-old new Jay gets to show the home fans what he can do in left field.

RF Aaron Judge, Yankees
Yes, Judge is in a second-half slump after winning the Home Run Derby (he’s hitting .182 with 35 Ks and only five homers since the all-star break), but go early to watch him take batting practice. The last time the Yankees were here, he made the Rogers Centre look small during his BP swings.

DUENCH'S TAKE

Helped by a ball lost in the sun, the Yankees scored more than three runs on Sunday for the first time in six August games. New York also might be looking past this series to its next 10 games, six against the Red Sox and four versus the Mets. Blue Jays win two of three.