The New York Yankees try to beat the Toronto Blue Jays for the fifth straight time at home on Friday when the American League East foes continue a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
With captain Derek Jeter in attendance, New York drew first blood in this series, as the Yankees hit three home runs en route to a 5-3 win. Robinson Cano's three-run shot was the big blow, while Vernon Wells and Francisco Cervelli added solo shots for the Yanks, who are 15-4 against the Jays at home since the start of the 2011 season.
Hiroki Kuroda (3-1) allowed homers to Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie that put Toronto ahead 3-0 after 1 1/2 innings, but didn't give up a run over the remainder of his six-inning stint before three New York relievers finished off the win with three scoreless frames.
"This," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda, "might be his best performance of the year."
All three home runs came off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle, who suffered his first loss of the season.
"He's a great hitter, and I think that's why this game is kind of frustrating at times. You make pitches and they get hits," Buehrle said of Cano. "I'd love to have it back now, but at the time, I got it in there, threw it where I wanted to, and he hit. Nothing I can do about it."
The blast was Cano's seventh in his last 15 games; he is now batting .391 with 13 runs, six doubles and 17 RBIs over that span.
"He makes this game look so easy," Wells said of Cano. "You're getting a chance to watch somebody pretty special play this game. To me, there's some at-bats where he's not going to make an out. It doesn't matter what the pitcher throws him, it doesn't matter who's on the mound.
Trying to slow Cano down on Friday will be Jays lefty Aaron Laffey, who'll make an emergency start in place of injured righty Josh Johnson.
Johnson will miss the start due to a right triceps injury.
Laffey had pitched to a 7.20 ERA without recording a decision in four games (2 starts) with the Mets before being claimed off waivers by Toronto. Laffey was 4-6 with a 4.56 in 22 games (16 starts) with the Blue Jays in 2012.
New York, meanwhile, will counter with righty Ivan Nova, who was awful against the Blue Jays on Sunday. However, like Johnson, he avoided a decision, despite surrendering four runs, seven hits and four walks in five innings.
"I'm just not repeating my pitches, repeating my pitches when I have to," said Nova, who is 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA on the season. "I still had a lack of command. I'm not throwing strikes, and that's making me mad. I know I can do better than this. I'm not happy."
The Yankees had gone 11-7 against the Jays last season and have won nine straight season series at home against them.