Series Preview Yankees (83-52) @ Blue Jays (67-69)

The Yankees are riding high after taking two out of three games from the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Next on the Yankees' schedule is an odd three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, another division rival. The teams play each other on Monday, and then have a day off on Tuesday before finishing up the series. The Jays are winners of two of their last three, and their offense has been coming back to life, making them a dangerous team.

Now that they're all-but-officially out of the playoff races, the Blue Jays have the chance to play spoiler to the rest of the American League teams, particularly the East teams. This is the last time that these two teams face each other except for a makeup game next Monday. The Yankees are 9-7 against the Jays so far in 2003.

The Yankee bats are also coming around, not that they were really on a downswing recently, with the current surges of Nick Johnson and Aaron Boone. Jason Giambi is in a terrible slump. He has no hits in his last 20 at bats, and just one in his last 25. The Yankee starting pitching has been more suspect than usual, and the hard-hitting Jays might be able to take advantage.

Yankees Home Record: 39-28
Toronto Road Record: 38-33

Starting Pitchers:

Monday: Roy Halladay (17-6, 3.68) vs. David Wells (12-5, 4.37)


Halladay hasn't been the dominating force that he was in the earlier part of the season, but he still has the second most wins in the majors and is a dangerous pitcher. He allowed just two runs over eight innings the last time he faced the Yankees, but was hit hard by Boston in his last outing (7 1/3 innings, 11 hits, 6 runs).

Wells is a big question mark lately. His back is aching and his pitching is suffering. He was hammered in his last start, serving up 10 runs in just 5 1/3 innings. His poor play of late has caused the Yankee brass to question his conditioning and even consider removing him from the rotation. Wells hasn't won a decision since July 19.

Wednesday: Kelvim Escobar (10-8, 4.31) vs. Mike Mussina (15-7, 3.22)

Escobar was solid in his last outing, allowing just three runs in eight innings against the light-hitting Indians. In the start before that, he was rocked by Oakland. The last time Escobar faced the Yankees, he was knocked out of the game in the second inning.

Mussina was a winner in his last outing, holding the White Sox to three runs on six innings. The Jays and White Sox are similar teams right now, and more of the same should be expected from the Moose.

Thursday: Cory Lidle (12-11, 6.08) vs. Andy Pettitte (17-7, 4.01)


Lidle has been an odd case for Toronto all season long. He somehow has 12 wins to go with his inflated ERA, but the ERA is more telling of the kind of pitcher he's been. He was good in his last start against the Indians, holding them to two runs over 6 1/3. Lidle is just 2-6 over his last 10 starts.

Pettitte has been one of the best pitchers in the AL over the last two and a half months, posting a 12-1 record since June 8. He has vaulted into a second-place tie for the most wins in the league, and has lowered his ERA all the way from 5.33. Pettitte defeated Boston in his last start, keeping the hard-hitting BoSox to just three earned runs in seven innings.

Predictions and Prognostications:
The Jays are a tough team, but their pitching is more than suspect and their hitting has been cold until just recently. The Yankees should be able to take two of three from the Jays, even without the injured Derek Jeter, and a sweep isn't out of the question. That being said, the Jays are still a tough team and could stun the Yanks like they've been doing since the first two weeks of the year. That's why they play the games.


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