Yanks eye sixth straight win in Toronto

Yanks eye sixth straight win in Toronto

The Yankees will try to strengthen their lead over Detroit and Seattle in the American League Wild Card race when they continue their nine-game road trip on Tuesday night.

After Monday's off-day, New York will open a three-game series against Toronto at Rogers Centre. The Yankees, who lead the AL Wild Card race by four games, have won five straight games and are a season-high 19 games over .500 at 81-62.

The Yankees, after sweeping the Royals, are on their longest winning streak since they won five straight from Aug. 3-7. That streak also included two straight wins over the Blue Jays, the last time New York visited Rogers Centre.

After that series, New York stood at 63-51, but it is 18-11 since then. In the second half, New York is a Major League-best 38-19.

"If you told us two months ago that [we would be 19 games over .500], it would have seemed like we would have won the lottery," Alex Rodriguez said. "We were so far behind. We are in a good place and we control our own destiny, and at this point, we have done a good job of not looking at the Wild Card and not looking at [AL East-leading] Boston, but just looking at us."

Since then, A-Rod has continued his dominance. He enters the Blue Jays series with seven homers in his last five games. Rodriguez, who leads the Majors in runs scored (132), RBIs (140) and homers (52), is trying to win the third AL Most Valuable Player Award of his career.

To Rodriguez, though, the numbers are meaningless without wins.

"Wins are the most important," he said.

And for New York to continue winning, it will need continued strong performances from its starting pitchers. In the three-game sweep of the Royals, the Yankees' starters combined to go 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA. All three pitchers -- Ian Kennedy, Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang -- allowed three runs or fewer.

Rookie Phil Hughes, who delivered six strong innings of two-run ball after enduring three straight subpar outings, will try to continue the trend when he opens the series on Tuesday.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.33 ERA)
Hughes gave the Yankees his best outing in a month on Wednesday, holding the Mariners to two runs in six innings. His success was a direct result of his aggressiveness; he threw more first-pitch strikes, which allowed him to stop throwing predictable pitches in predictable counts. He'll look to continue that success against the Blue Jays, the team that beat him in his Major League debut on April 26.

TOR: RHP Shaun Marcum (12-5, 3.74 ERA)
Marcum is 8-2 with a 3.90 ERA in the second half and has posted a 5-3 record and a 4.97 ERA at Rogers Centre. He is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season.

Player to watch
Rodriguez continues to etch his name in the history books on a seemingly daily basis. A-Rod has homered in his last five games, tying a career high.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 8-10, 5.51) at Blue Jays (Dustin McGowan, 10-8, 3.90), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 1-0, 2.25) at Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, 8-7, 3.56), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 13-8, 3.78) at Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 14-12, 4.44), 7:05 p.m. ET

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.