NEW YORK — The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees had to wait another day for the start of their AL East showdown.
The opener of the four-game series between division-leading Toronto and the second-place Yankees was postponed because of rain on Thursday night more than an hour before the scheduled first pitch.
The teams will make the game up with a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1:05 p.m. The second game starts a half-hour after the opener ends.
Toronto has a 1 1/2 game lead over the Yankees after both teams lost two of three against division rivals this week.
Blue Jays ace David Price had been set to start Thursday against Yankees rookie Luis Severino. They will each get the ball Friday night.
“It’s not ideal for your pitching,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “The thought process is you’re probably not going to use relievers twice in a day. You might, depending on how hard they were worked and what their workload was before. … It just changes your flexibility in a sense.”
The clubs will stay on schedule with their rotations. New York will start Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova Saturday, but Girardi did not say in what order.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Marco Estrada will start the first game and Marcus Stroman will make his season debut in the nightcap.
Girardi acknowledged this was the Yankees’ most significant series since they were last in the playoffs in 2012. Price sees the big weekend differently.
“Every series we play is important now,” he said after the rainout. “You can’t put any more importance on any certain game or any certain series. We all know that we need to win games and keep playing the same baseball that we’ve been playing.”
That’s been some stellar baseball since Price, Troy Tulowitzki and Ben Revere arrived in trades before the trade deadline, going 29-9 since Tulowitzki’s first game on July 29.
The Yankees had a seven-game lead in the division the day the Blue Jays made their first big move — a trade with Colorado that also brought reliever LaTroy Hawkins to help stabilize a shaky bullpen.
“I’ve had some wild dreams,” Gibbons said when asked if he’s played out the rest of the season.
While the Yankees faltered as Toronto ran off 11 straight wins, the teams have been matching each other down the stretch, with each winning eight of 11.
The Blue Jays are 8-4 against New York, including a three-game sweep in the Bronx Aug. 7-9, so far this season with three final matchups in Toronto Sept. 21-23.
The loser of the division could be headed to the one-game wild-card playoff, an outcome Girardi hopes to avoid.
He might have to rely on certain stars more than he would like.
“I think you push them as hard as you can without hurting them,” he said. “we’re not necessarily running a lot of 25 year old position players out there and it’s the end of the year and we have to measure that but I’m going to push them as hard as I can.”
Blue Jays: Stroman had left knee surgery for a torn ACL in March. “I don’t think anybody expected him back,” Gibbons said.
Yankees: 1B Mark Teixeira is going to have more tests on his bruised right shin Friday. Having started only once since fouling a ball off his leg on Aug. 17 and using crutches to get around, Teixeira still thinks he’s going to play again this season. “in my mind, I’m playing,” Teixeira said. “But, we tried to push it the first time and knew it wasn’t ready. So we have to figure out how much healing’s occurred and when I can push it again.”
Blue Jays: Price is 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA since being acquired at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He faced the Yankees twice with Toronto, tossing seven scoreless inning in an win on Aug. 8 and giving up three runs while pitching into the eighth six days later.
Yankees: Severino gave up three runs and five hits in six innings against the Jays on Aug. 16, his third major league start. The RHP is 3-0 with an 0.98 ERA in his last three outings.
The Associated Press