The New York Yankees are making a push for the playoffs and are expected to have shortstop Derek Jeter back in the lineup on Monday for the opener of a three-game series versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
Now the Yankees hope that Jeter can stay there. The 39-year-old has been limited to just five games this year due to various leg injuries. He began the campaign on the disabled list due to a left ankle injury, not making his season debut on July 11.
Jeter played in one game before injuring his right quadriceps, which sidelined him until July 28. Following another four games, he returned to the DL due to a right calf ailment, but was able to wrap a three-game rehab assignment without issue on Saturday.
The Yankees may have to be cautious with Jeter, but at seven games off the pace in the AL East and 3 1/2 behind the second AL wild card spot, they also may not have a lot of time.
"He has played three days in a row (in the minors). From everything I understand, he felt pretty good," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't know if we can afford to be apprehensive."
The Yankees have won 11 of their last 15 contests, but needed extra innings to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Alfonso Soriano ripped a one-out double in the 11th inning and stole third base, leading to Curtis Granderson's sacrifice fly. Mariano Rivera then retired the Rays in order to secure the 3-2 win and his 38th save of the season.
"We got a lot of big performances out of a lot of people today," said Girardi. "That's a great team win."
The Blue Jays return home following a 2-8 road trip, one that included getting swept in four games at New York. That extended Toronto's season-long struggles in this series as it has lost 12 of 13 to the Yankees.
The Jays have lost all 10 of the meetings in New York this year and their lone victory over the Yankees came in Toronto back on April 21.
Toronto snapped a seven-game overall losing streak with Sunday's 2-1 win over Houston, but needed a late surge to do so. Moises Sierra drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth to tie the game and Ryan Goins brought home the winner with a groundout in the frame.
Mark Buehrle worked the first eight innings, scattering seven hits and one run while fanning seven for the victory. Casey Janssen walked two and gave up a hit in the ninth, but held on for his 23rd save.
"Wins like that have been hard to come by," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "We were in so many games, all except the first two here, but we came up short. But to win the final one, it always feel good."
Gibbons will send R.A. Dickey to the hill for tonight's opener and the right- handed knuckleballer has just one victory over his last nine starts.
Dickey is coming off a 4-2 loss at the Yankees on Wednesday, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out nine over eight innings. He was also part of history, giving up a first-inning single to Ichiro Suzuki that was the Yankee outfielder's 4,000th professional hit.
"What an incredible achievement," Dickey said of Suzuki. "And the manner in which he's done it is equally as impressive ... just the longevity, the endurance, the durability. It couldn't have happened to a more professional hitter."
Dickey, who logged at least seven innings for a fourth straight start, fell to 9-12 with a 4.49 earned run average in 27 starts this year. The 38-year-old has lost both of his starts versus the Yankees in 2013 and is 3-3 against them lifetime with a 3.44 ERA in 12 games (6 starts).
The Yankees counter with Phil Hughes, who stands just 4-12 with a 4.88 ERA in 24 starts on the season and has not won since July 2. He is 0-5 with a 5.63 ERA in eight starts since, but did turn in a quality outing last time out.
The 27-year-old righty pitched one game of a doubleheader versus the Blue Jays last Tuesday and did not factor into a 3-2 win. Hughes, though, allowed just two runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings.
Hughes is 5-5 with a save and 4.80 ERA in 25 career meetings with the Blue Jays, including 18 starts.