David Phelps takes the hill for New York on Saturday when the Yankees attempt to continue their dominance over the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx.
Hiroki Kuroda paced the Yankees in the first matchup of the three-game series on Friday as he gave up a mere two hits during eight innings of work in New York's 5-0 shutout victory. Toronto came into weekend on a four-game winning streak, having tallied 33 runs in its last three outings.
The Blue Jays, though, are just 1-7 against the Yankees on the season and have lost all five games the teams have played at Yankee Stadium. In fact the Yankees have won 17 of the last 19 meetings at home in this series.
Both Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encanacion went 2-for-4 with a double on Friday but no other Blue Jay managed to get a hit. Cabrera has hit a double in four- straight games and now owns a team-leading .284 batting average. Mark Buerhle dropped to 1-3 on the year after giving up six hits and five runs in six innings of work.
The Blue Jays hope Brandon Morrow can return from a back injury to help turn their fortunes around against their AL East rival on Saturday. Morrow has not pitched since May 5 when he allowed just three hits and two runs and struck out eight despite issuing five walks in a lopsided win over Seattle.
Morrow has since been scratched twice because of upper back and neck soreness.
"We'll be cautious, it has been a little while since he has thrown, but if it's easy for him, we'll just let him run with it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It has been a while since he has been out there."
Morrow is 1-2 with a 4.69 ERA in seven starts this season. He allowed seven runs, five of which were earned, over 5 1/3 innings of a 9-4 loss to the Yankees on April 19. He will hope Toronto's offense can regain its steam as it outscored its opponents, 36-15, during its four-game winning streak that preceded Friday's series opener.
Leadoff hitter Brett Gardner helped the Yankees get off to a good start on Friday as he hustled his way to a first-inning triple. The 29-year old center fielder is 5-for-14 with four stolen bases over his past four games. Rookie third baseman David Adams became the first Yankee to hit safely in his first three major league games since Shelley Duncan did so in four straight in 2007 by going 2-for-4 with a double and two runs in Friday's win.
Adams is not the only rookie making an impact for New York. Joe Girardi had to be pleased with his 24-year old catcher Austin Romine as he registered the first multi-hit game of his career in the series opener.
Both Adams and Romine are providing support for the Yankees' offense as Robinson Cano looks to break out of his slump. The star second baseman's batting average has dropped to .291 after only one hit in his last 12 at bats.
Prior to Friday's opener New York placed veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Vidal Nuno to replace him in the rotation.
Right-hander David Phelps will make his fourth start of the season on Saturday since moving from the bullpen to a starting role earlier this month.
Phelps was handed a loss despite giving up only a single run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings against Cleveland on Monday. He is 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts this year but owns a 4.33 overall ERA on the campaign.