The Blue Jays starting pitcher on Saturday afternoon is looking for his first victory against the New York Yankees in nine seasons.
Mark Buehrle (1-0) last defeated the Yankees in 2004. During a 13-year career, he's 1-8 against the Yankees with a 6.38 ERA in 12 total starts. The Yanks have batted .333 against the left-hander as a team, with 97 hits and 10 home runs in his 67-2/3 innings pitched.
Robinson Cano is 6-for-14 against Buehrle with two doubles and two homers, and Brett Gardner 3-for-5 with a homer. Ichiro Suzuki and former Jay Vernon Wells have also hit him well, playing with teams other than the Yankees. Suzuki has 21 hits in 48 at-bats, Wells 21 hits in 44 at-bats.
Buerhle is coming off a victory against his former team, the Chicago White Sox. The Jays have won all three of his starts to date, though he received a pair of no-decisions.
The Yankees obtained Wells at the end of March. Manager Joe Girardi has been moving him around the batting order, but indicated on Saturday morning that he's content with Wells in the 5-hole and intends to stick with that setup for a while. Wells hit a homer in Friday's 9-4 win over the Jays and is batting .283 with four homers and seven RBIs.
Wells also scored on a Toronto defensive lapse in the third inning that gave the Yankees two runs and a 5-1 lead. Wells had been doubled to third base by Ichiro Suzuki when Eduardo Nunez lofted a fly to shallow centre. Wells held at third, and when Colby Rasmus's throw to the plate wasn't cut off, catcher J.P. Arencibia moved several strides in front of the plate to intercept it. The ball bounced off him, and both runners came in on the play. An error was charged to Rasmus although his throw was on the mark.
"What happens when a team is struggling, everything is magnified," manager John Gibbons said, Saturday morning.
Toronto's batting order continued to struggle on Friday, as Andy Pettitte pitched commandingly with a seven-run lead. As a tream the Jays entered Saturday's game averaging .228, 43 points below the injury-riddled Yankees.
With the Jays in a deep hole Friday, hitters hit four consecutive first pitches for outs at one point. "You never want to see that," Gibbons said, adding hurriedly that if a hitter gets the pitch he's looking for, he has license to swing.
An insightful moment into Pettitte's character as an athlete occurred in the sixth inning with Melky Cabrera at the plate and two outs. Pettitte missed his spot and Cabrera got good wood on the pitch for a single to left field. Pettitte gesticulated on the mound, angry with himself.
“I fell behind and that was a mental letdown,’’ said Pettitte, 40.
Jose Bautista followed with a two-run homer.