Blue Jays-Yankees Preview


The New York Yankees insist no one is panicking despite their longest losing streak in nearly two years.

After a winless road trip, the last-place Yankees try to regroup at home as they open a two-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The Yankees are 8-11 for the third time in four years after a 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and New York's five-game losing streak is its longest since a six-game skid from May 28-June 3, 2005.

The Yankees lost two straight in Tampa after being swept in a three-game series in Boston for the first time since 1990.

"It's the absolute worst road trip we could imagine, being 0-5," center fielder Johnny Damon said. "We're 0-5 without being outplayed. We're going out there and we're doing OK. We're just not finishing out the other teams."

That sense of calm also emanated from manager Joe Torre, whose team needs a win to avoid its worst 20-game start since going 7-13 in 1991.

"The only thing I can tell this ballclub is you can't start forcing it," Torre said. "You just have to continue doing what you're doing. You can only do what you do. If you're out there trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, it's going to come back and bite you."

Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.78 ERA) will try to end the slide. The veteran left-hander allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings on Friday at Boston, and left the game with a 5-2 lead, only to have closer Mariano Rivera squander the advantage as the Red Sox rallied to win 7-6.

Pettitte also made a relief appearance -- his second of the season -- Sunday and pitched a scoreless sixth inning before the Yankees relievers again faltered in a 7-6 defeat. He is 15-7 with a 4.30 ERA in 29 appearances, including 28 starts, against the Blue Jays. He hasn't faced them since 2003, and is looking for his first win over them at Yankee Stadium since Aug. 2, 1999.

Third baseman Alex Rodriguez had his 23-game hitting streak dating back to last season end in Tuesday's defeat, but enters this game batting .343 (12-for-35) with seven homers and 19 RBIs in eight home games. He is 3-for-8 with two homers and six RBIs lifetime against Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett.

Like Pettitte, Burnett (1-1, 5.57) has seen his bullpen cost him a victory recently. The right-hander held Baltimore to two runs in seven innings and was ahead 4-2 when he left Friday, but the Orioles tied the game with two runs in the eighth and rallied to win in the ninth for a 5-4 win.

"It's something that these young guys are going to have to learn to deal with," Burnett said of the relievers. "They all deserve to be here or they wouldn't be here."

Burnett went 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Yankees last season, losing the final two. He is 2-2 in four lifetime starts versus New York.

The Blue Jays (10-10) were able to do what the Yankees could not do recently -- get a win at Fenway Park. After entering Boston with five consecutive losses, Toronto left with a pair of victories, including a 10-3 rout Tuesday as Vernon Wells went 4-for-5 with four runs and three RBIs.

"It was a good time to start playing well," said Wells, who went 6-for-9 with seven runs in the two wins. "Hopefully we can continue doing that."

The Blue Jays lost catcher Gregg Zaun to a bruised thumb, and he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Toronto will recall Sal Fasano from Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .297 with four homers in 11 games.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter left in the first inning Tuesday with a bruised thigh after being hit by a pitch from Scott Kazmir. Jeter, who's hitting .316, said he expects to play.