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Yankees try to stay above .500 vs. Blue Jays

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
Yankees try to stay above .500 vs. Blue Jays
Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- In the last two weeks, the New York Yankees have made it above .500 only to fall back to the break-even point again.

The Yankees are 10-9 heading into the finale of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday and they will attempt to exit Yankee Stadium with a winning record.

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New York is one game above .500 after Aaron Judge hit his sixth homer of the season and drove in three runs during Saturday's 9-1 rout. It is the third time the Yankees have gotten one game over in the last two weeks.

Miguel Andujar went 2-for-4 with a bases-clearing double. During Andujar's last five games, he is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two homers and six RBIs.

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"There's been a lot of communication between me and the hitting coaches," Andujar said through an interpreter. "They told me I was a little too anxious, so I'm going out there a little more relaxed. That's what I feel. I just feel more relaxed. That's helping me a lot right now."

The follow-up to getting one game over has not gone well for the Yankees so far.

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New York was 5-4 after an 8-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on April 7 and then took nearly five hours to drop an 8-7 decision in 12 innings the following day. The Yankees made it to 8-7 after beating the Miami Marlins 12-1 on Monday only to put on a putrid showing in a 9-1 defeat on Tuesday.

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"It's just about little by little getting better every single day," Judge said. "You're not going to try to make big strides every single day. It's like laying a brick down when you're building a house. You lay one brick down at a time and just try to do that every day."

The Yankees may try to get better with Gleyber Torres. The highly touted infielder was pulled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's game on Saturday and reportedly is slated to join the team on Sunday.

The Blue Jays have not dropped consecutive games since losing its first two games to the Yankees. Toronto is coming off its most lopsided loss and allowed more than six runs for the first time this season.

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Toronto went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, mustered four hits and was 2-for-11 with men on base.

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"We had some guys on base, we just couldn't cash in at all," said Toronto manager John Gibbons, whose team has won nine of 12. "We've been getting guys on base really this whole series."

Gibbons' comment is correct.

In the first three games, the Blue Jays are 7-for-32 (.219) with runners in scoring position and 10-for-49 (.204) with men on base.

Steve Pearce drove in the only run while playing first base as Justin Smoak received the day off. Smoak, who was 7-for-15 in the first series against the Yankees, has three hits in his last 31 at-bats in his last eight games.

Luis Severino has encountered difficulties against Toronto at times and hopes to begin reversing that trend. While he is a combined 10-2 against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, he is 3-8 against Toronto and Boston.

In eight career games against Toronto, Severino is 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA. In three home appearances (two starts) against Toronto, he is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA.

Smoak is the Blue Jays hitter to give Severino the most trouble by going 5-for-14 (.357) with two homers and five RBIs and a 1.256 OPS.

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Severino is coming off a particularly strong outing after it was believed he was tipping his pitches in an ugly outing on April 10 in Boston. In Monday's 12-1 win over the Miami Marlins, he allowed one hit in six scoreless innings, becoming the first Yankees pitcher to post two scoreless outings in New York's first 15 games since current broadcaster David Cone in 1997.

Jaime Garcia is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his first three starts for Toronto, who signed him as a free agent on Feb. 15. He last pitched in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals when he allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings of an 11-3 win.

Garcia was 0-3 with a 4.82 ERA in eight starts for the Yankees last season, but he is making his first career start against New York. Although he is pitching against the Yankees for the first time, he has not fared well in matchups with Stanton and Neil Walker.

Stanton is 7-for-12 (.583) with three homers and six RBIs against Garcia. Walker is 4-for-10.

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So far, Garcia is producing a fly-ball rate of 43.9 percent, up from 26.6 percent last season.

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