Hiroki Kuroda hopes to keep the New York Yankees in sole possession of first place in the American League East on Friday when they continue a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Kuroda has not been sharp of late and lost to Oakland on Sunday, surrendering five runs (4 earned) and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, as he dropped to 14-11 to go along with a 3.34 ERA. He also walked three batters, the first time he walked more than two batters in a start since June 19.
"I was trying to hit those corners and was missing the plate," said Kuroda, who is pitching to a 6.75 ERA in September.
Kuroda tossed seven scoreless innings to beat the Blue Jays the last time he faced them, but allowed seven runs in five innings against them in a loss back on May 16.
Toronto will counter with righty Chad Jenkins, who will be making his second big league start after 10 bullpen appearances. Jenkins lost his first start on Sunday against Tampa Bay, despite a terrific outing that saw him surrender a run and two hits in five innings.
"It's a huge boost in confidence," Jenkins said. "I've thrown pretty well up here. There are a few things I need to fix, but for the most part it has been nice. It will definitely give me a leg up going into Spring Training next year."
He is 0-2 on the year with a 4.24 ERA.
"He did a very good job for us," manager John Farrell said. "From the second inning on, he did a much better job of controlling the strike zone in the bottom half. He came out early, kind of overthrowing a little bit, and some balls were elevated, but still, the one run allowed, two hits -- an outstanding job on his part."
Toronto cruised in Thursday's opener, as Brandon Morrow tossed seven scoreless innings and Edwin Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with three RBI, as the last-place Blue Jays kept the Yankees from padding their AL East lead with to a 6-0 victory.
The loss moved the idle Baltimore Orioles within one game of New York with six to play.
Morrow (9-7) scattered four hits and three walks while striking out three for the Blue Jays, who were coming off a split of a four-game series in Baltimore.
"I was just trying to put up strikes the whole time and stay within myself," Morrow admitted. "I wasn't overthrowing. I thought I had pretty good stuff."
Brett Lawrie went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, while J.P. Arencibia also had two hits, including a solo shot, in the win.
Ivan Nova (12-8) surrendered four runs on six hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings to take the loss, New York's third in five games.
New York has won nine of 15 from the Jays this season.