Yankees need bats to stay hot on road

Yanks need bats to stay hot on road

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' recent homestand may have been short, but it ended with an exclamation point on Sunday afternoon to finish a three-game series against Kansas City.

After plating six runs through the first two matchups combined, New York unloaded for 15 runs and 17 hits in the finale to win a series for the first time since the team took two of three in Boston on July 26.

The Yankees will look to bring that momentum with them as they hit the road for a six-game road trip. First stop, Toronto. The Blue Jays sit just two games behind New York in the standings, and through nine games, the Yankees have posted a 5-4 record against the Jays.

"We all know how good their pitching staff is and how they've been playing us, so it's going to be a challenge," Derek Jeter said.

The Bombers will need the same sort of offense they generated Sunday when they face right-hander A.J. Burnett on Tuesday. Burnett has 15 wins for the season, and he held the Yankees to one run in his last start against New York on July 13.

Darrell Rasner will take the mound against the Blue Jays to open the series, coming off a solid performance in which limited the Twins to three runs (two earned) over five innings. Rasner's most recent victory came against Toronto on July 12.

But the key to New York's success is production at the plate with runners in scoring position. The Yankees have struggled to capitalize on opportunities throughout the season, though they connected on big hits to push runs across Sunday.

Slugger Jason Giambi blasted a grand slam and third baseman Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-3 from the plate and racked up five RBIs. But during the first two games of the homestand, Giambi was hitless in seven at-bats, and Rodriguez came away with only one hit in eight tries. Rodriguez said the middle of the lineup will have to contribute consistently to keep the Bombers in the push for the playoffs.

"If we don't, we're not going to win," he said. "That's the bottom line. [Nos.] 3, 4, 5 in the lineup have to come up big, and we haven't lately.

"We have our backs up against the wall, and every game is very important. You've got to take it like it's the last week in September."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Darrell Rasner (5-9, 5.18 ERA)
With Dan Giese on the 15-day disabled list, the Yankees are turning to Rasner as they open a three-game series with the Blue Jays in Toronto. Rasner started on Aug. 13 at Minnesota and kept the Yankees in the game. Still, the result was another loss for Rasner, who is 0-2 with a 5.76 ERA in his past five appearances (four starts).

TOR: RHP A.J. Burnett (15-9, 4.67 ERA)
Burnett has won five starts in a row, tying rotation mates Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch for the longest winning streak of the season by a Blue Jays starter. On Tuesday, Burnett picked up a win on the road against the Tigers after giving up four runs on eight hits, including a season-high three home runs, with six strikeouts and one walk. Burnett upped his American League-leading strikeout total to 165 in the 108-pitch effort, which marked his seventh win in his past eight starts.

Joba Chamberlain, rehabbing from right rotator cuff tendinitis, is scheduled to play catch at a longer distance on Monday at an empty Yankee Stadium. Chamberlain, who had been throwing from 65 feet, will toss again on Tuesday in Toronto before resting on Wednesday. ... Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano both pitched in rehab appearances on Sunday in the Yankees' Minor League system. Barring setbacks, one or both could be available to join the rotation this weekend in Baltimore. ... Jose Molina has 17 doubles, tying a single-season career high set with the Angels in 2006. ... Rodriguez needs two home runs to tie Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (548) for 12th place on baseball's all-time list.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
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Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 12-9, 4.30) at Blue Jays (David Purcey, 2-3, 5.93), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Sidney Ponson, 7-3, 4.19) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 14-9, 2.64), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (TBD) at Orioles (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET

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