The New York Yankees begin a stretch of 22 straight games against the American League East on Monday with the opener of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees come into the matchup with the Jays holding a four-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in the division and stand a great chance of extending that advantage on Monday, as they have beaten Toronto eight straight times in the Bronx.
Not to mention Toronto has lost seven straight overall and eight in a row on the road. The Jays caught a break on Sunday when the finale of their set with the Baltimore Orioles was postponed due to rain.
Meanwhile, New York earned a series win in Cleveland on Sunday, as Nick Swisher clubbed three hits, including an RBI single, to help the Yanks to a 4-2 win.
Curtis Granderson added a solo home run and Ichiro Suzuki registered two hits, an RBI and a run scored for New York, which ended a six-game road trip at 2-4.
"To lose two series on a road trip is never good so it's good to go back home having won this one," said Granderson. "This helps get your mind and body ready for the division games we have ahead of us."
Boone Logan (5-2) earned the victory after tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Freddy Garcia, who gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings. Rafael Soriano recorded the final out of the eighth and worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his 33rd save of the season.
David Phelps gets the ball for the Yankees on Monday, taking the spot of righty Ivan Nova. Phelps hasn't started since Aug.18 when he lost to the Red Sox. He is 3-4 with a 2.69 ERA this season.
Phelps has made 24 total appearances for the Yankees, but this will be his seventh start.
"Really, really good, just because of all the roles that he's been able to perform in for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I kind of liken it to a little bit of Ramiro Mendoza when I was here. He was able to do everything. Start, long relief, short relief. He's been really good."
A loser in four straight starts, Henderson Alvarez tries to get back on track yet again on Monday as he heads to the mound for the Blue Jays. Less than a month ago the right-hander was an even 7-7, but during his current slide Toronto has scored no more than two runs in any one outing.
Last Sunday Alvarez didn't do himself any favors when he gave up eight earned runs on 12 hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings against Texas in an 11-2 setback at home. The hurler struck out only three which means he has recorded only eight total strikeouts during the slide.
Alvarez has faced the Yanks twice without getting a decision, but has pitched to a 5.25 ERA in those outings.
The Yanks have won five of eight from the Jays this season.