In a few minutes, the Yankees and the Blue Jays were square off in a key three-game set north of the border. For the Blue Jays, just two games behind the Yankees, this is their opportunity to make a move or play spoiler. The Yankees, as we know, just need to keep winning.
Tonight, though, the Yankees will have to earn it. They’re tossing Darrell Rasner, 5-9 with a 5.18 ERA, against A.J. Burnett. Now, Burnett’s start tonight is something of an audition. On the season, he’s a very respectable 15-9, but his ERA stands at 4.67, a full 0.79 higher than his career line. But against the Yanks this year, he’s 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 innings.
This start is an audition because A.J. Burnett has one of those opt-out clauses in his contract, and nearly everyone watching thinks he’s going to exercise that clause. When Burnett records the first out of the third inning today, he will have reached a three-year innings pitched high, and potential suitors will look at his health and success against the AL’s perennial contenders as they determine whether or not to offer the flame-throwing right-hander a contract.
Today’s game also marks the return of Hideki Matsui. The injured Yankee has been out since the end of June with knee problems. While Matsui will need knee surgery at some point in the near future, he will attempt to play for as long as he can. Matsui was hitting .323/.404/.458 through 69 games prior to his injury. The Yanks sent Justin Christian down to make move for Matsui.
Darrell Rasner P (5-9, 5.18)