MLB

Blue Jays-Yankees Preview

Nathan Eovaldi's dominant last start provided the spark for the New York Yankees' longest winning streak - and best run of starting pitching - of the season.

The right-hander now tries to set the tone for a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays that begins Tuesday night and is expected to mark Alex Rodriguez's return.

New York lost the first two of its seven-game western trip before Eovaldi (4-2, 4.44 ERA) retired 18 consecutive Arizona hitters following Jean Segura's leadoff double in the first inning of Wednesday's 4-2 win. The rest of the Yankee pitching staff followed his lead by holding Oakland to nine runs in a four-game sweep finished off with Sunday's 5-4 victory.

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''This was a big four-game sweep for us,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''There was a lot of frustration in our clubhouse, whether it was from pitchers or whether it was from position players who were struggling with the bat. Everyone seems to be doing their part now. The vibe is a lot better.''

Eovaldi has recorded a 2.84 ERA in winning each of his three starts during a 12-5 stretch for New York (21-22), which lost 16 of its first 24 games.

The Yankees have been receiving contributions from the offensive side as well during their surge. Carlos Beltran went 9 for 18 with eight RBIs in the Oakland series and Jacoby Ellsbury is 7 for 19 with a .500 on-base percentage over the streak.

Rodriguez was starting to come out of his early season slump prior to straining his right hamstring May 3. The slugger was running without incident during the trip and plans to be activated Tuesday.

The 40-year-old has had his recent struggles against Toronto, hitting .149 in the series since returning from his 2014 suspension and going 0 for 11 when the Blue Jays won two of three from New York last month.

Rodriguez does own a .303 average with one home run off R.A. Dickey (2-5, 4.50), who's given the Yankees trouble in Toronto but hasn't fared as well on the road. The veteran is 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA in his last eight starts against New York but 0-3 with a 3.43 mark in six at Yankee Stadium since last winning there with the Mets on May 20, 2011.

Dickey has been better this season away from Rogers Centre, where he fell to 0-4 with a 5.64 ERA after giving up three homers and four earned runs in six innings of Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

" ... they ambushed a couple of first-pitch knuckleballs and hit them out of the park, and that's going to happen when you're a knuckleballer," Dickey told MLB's official website.

He's allowed seven home runs in his last five starts.

Toronto (22-24) had plenty of success in the Bronx during its 2015 AL East title run, winning eight of 10 matchups. The Blue Jays homered 10 times and scored 30 runs in winning three of four at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 11-13.

Toronto hit nine home runs while taking three of four from lowly Minnesota to begin this road trip. Jose Bautista opened Sunday's 3-1 win with his third homer in as many games and Josh Donaldson followed with a solo shot off Phil Hughes to support Marcus Stroman's 7 2/3 strong innings.

Michael Saunders finished the series 7 of 17 with two homers to raise his road average to .364. The outfielder is hitting .388 over his past 12 games.