Game 51: North of the Border

The Yankees head in to Toronto with a sour taste in their mouth to face the red-hot Blue Jays tonight at 7:07 p.m. EDT.

Their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, got badly knocked around to the tune of seven earned runs, while the offense stranded 10 runners on base. The Yankees hope to counter those issues with a radically different lineup than the one posted 24 hours ago. The obvious place to start, of course, is the starting pitcher.

CC Sabathia continues to impress with his reinvented work ethic. The big lefty is 3-0 in his last three outings, never allowing more than two runs in each. He pitched into the seventh inning in two of those starts, while consistently throwing at least 85 pitches. Part of that efficiency comes in the form of a 47.1% ground ball rate. The highest he’s ever had in a season was 50.7% in 2010. The Yankees are looking for him to be a stopper just like he was in his prime tonight.

Tonight’s Yankee lineup also looks more conventional because Gary Sánchez and Didi Gregorius are back. Sánchez played backup in deference to Austin Romine as Joe Girardi experimented with the theory that Sánchez was to blame for Tanaka’s struggles. Gary is back in the lineup with his .400 clip (and two home runs) against tonight’s starter Marco Estrada. Didi was given the night off after taking a fastball to the hand from former teammate Richard Bleier. X-rays were negative, but the Yankees still treated it urgently.

“His hand was swollen last night; it’s a little bit better today,” Girardi said in an article written yesterday by Bryan Hoch. “We figured a day off would probably help. Your concern is, it’s not at full strength and then all of a sudden your swing changes a little bit. It can mess you up.”

Gregorius has a career .250 average against Estrada in 24 at-bats. He has three home runs and three runs-batted-in, too. Curiously enough, two hits against the Orioles was not enough to keep Rob Refsnyder‘s bat in the lineup against the Blue Jays. Chris Carter has been slotted back in at first base for the series opener. Carter has no hits in just two at bats against Estrada.


Hoch’s article also made note of three Yankees rehabbing injuries, and their current progress. Greg Bird (right ankle bruise) played in three innings of a simulated game in Tampa yesterday, and will play six innings for the Class-A Advanced Tampa Yankees tonight. Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) took batting practice yesterday, and traveled to Toronto with the team. He was eligible to be activated today, but was not. Aroldis Chapman (left rotator cuff inflammation) played catch on Wednesday, and the latest estimate has him coming back in mid-June.


Starting Lineups

New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Gary Sánchez – C
  3. Aaron Judge – RF
  4. Matt Holliday – DH
  5. Starlin Castro – 2B
  6. Didi Gregorius – SS
  7. Aaron Hicks – CF
  8. Chase Headley – 3B
  9. Chris Carter – 1B
Toronto Blue Jays
  1. Kevin Pillar – CF
  2. Josh Donaldson – 3B
  3. José Bautista – RF
  4. Kendrys Morales – DH
  5. Justin Smoak – 1B
  6. Troy Tulowitzki – SS
  7. Darwin Barney – 2B
  8. Ezequiel Carrera – LF
  9. Luke Maile – C

Pitching Matchup

CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42) vs. Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15)

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