Series Preview:Blue Jays (51-48) @ Yankees (61-36)

Hot off of a four-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees are looking to improve on their 4-0 post-All-Star break record. How does one improve on a flawless 4-0 record, you ask? Why, by going 6-0 of course. The Blue Jays are coming to the Bronx for a quick two-game set to start the work week. The Yankees will have their work cut out for them on Tuesday when they face the seemingly unbeatable Roy Halladay.

The Yankee offense has been splendid since their three-day vacation. They averaged 7.25 runs per game during the Cleveland series, and hit a total of nine homeruns. With Bernie Williams back in the order, even though he isn't hitting to his potential yet, the lineup has taken a decisive form. Derek Jeter is on a tear over the last few weeks, hitting .465 since June 28 to bring his average all the way up to .322.

Toronto started the second half of their season by splitting a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox. Former Yankee reliever Juan Acevedo helped Toronto blow a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday, continuing his season-long struggles. As a team, Toronto has been decidedly average lately. But they just traded their leadoff hitter, Shannon Stewart, to the Minnesota Twins for OF Bobby Kielty. The move brings a bigger bat into the middle of the order – as if they needed it – while Josh Phelps battles a back injury.

I'd give this "series" to the Yankees hands down if Halladay weren't pitching the second game. Halladay has been downright filthy since he started the year 0-2. As proof of that, the Blue Jays are 16-1 in his last 17 starts. In the game they lost, Halladay went nine innings before the Red Sox scored in extra innings to win, 2-1. I'll call this series a split, but if the Yankees can outlast Halladay, good things will happen.

Yankees Home Record: 29-19
Blue Jays Road Record: 28-24

Probable Pitchers:

Monday: Mark Hendrickson (5-6, 5.55) vs. Jeff Weaver (5-7, 5.20)
Hendrickson can be a pretty good pitcher at times. But most of the time he's strictly average. For instance he allowed 10 hits to the Tigers on July 1, definitely not a good sign. Hendrickson was brutalized by the Yankees way back on April 2 in Toronto. The Yankees scored seven runs on 10 hits in just 1 2/3 innings. His last start was a no decision against the Orioles in which he went five innings and allowed two earned runs. Hendrickson has also been victimized by his defense a lot. He has given up a total of 12 unearned runs, a very large number for a pitcher.
Weaver will be pitching on eight-days rest after his last start on July 13. That start was nothing short of brilliant however. He threw eight innings of four-hit ball against these same Blue Jays, in Toronto. In fact, Toronto has been Weaver's favorite team this season. He sports a 2-1 record and a 2.18 ERA against them

Tuesday: Roy Halladay (14-2, 3.33) vs. Andy Pettitte (11-6, 4.66)
Halladay is a machine. He's rolled off 14 consecutive victories and has shown no signs of stopping. His success has been a result of a combination of excellent pitching and a good deal of run support (think David Wells in 2002, with better stuff). His last start was more of the same, a complete game victory over the Red Sox. The good news (if there is any) is that Toronto's bullpen is shaky at best. Halladay has had to pitch late into games a lot, and the innings could take their toll on him soon. If the Yanks can get into the bullpen, they could make some noise.
Here's where things get interesting. Pettitte is on a little six-game win streak of his own, and the Yanks have won his last seven outings. Something has to give here, and knowing Pettitte and the gamer that he is, he's going to put up one hell of a fight. He went seven innings and allowed four runs in his last start against the Indians – a no decision.

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