Yankees visit Blue Jays for brief series

TORONTO — While the New York Yankees split a doubleheader in Detroit on Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays rested.

The Yankees, playing in Detroit to make up for games against the Tigers lost to bad weather April 14-15, won the first game 7-4 to extend their winning streak to five games and lost the second game 4-2.

The Yankees (38-18) have had seven games postponed already this season. They will visit the Rogers Centre on Tuesday night for the opener of a two-game series against the Blue Jays.

Toronto (26-33) left Detroit after avoiding a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers with an 8-4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

That ended the Blue Jays’ season-worst five-game losing streak and completed a 3-6 road trip.

The Yankees will start left-hander CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.73 ERA) against Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada (2-6, 5.68).

After starting the season 9-9, the Yankees are 29-9 since April 21.

“All in all, I’m pleased with what we’re doing,” Yankees first-year manager Aaron Boone said. “There’s so many things at the margins we can continue to improve on and get better at. If we’re going to be an elite club, those are things we always have to be hungry to continue to try to get better at.”

While the Yankees have been surging, the Blue Jays have been struggling, having lost 16 of their past 22 games. They have won only one of their past 10 series. So the win Sunday was welcome.

“This takes some pressure off all of us,” said Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak, who had a two-run homer and an RBI double on Sunday. “Every one of us was trying to make the play that ended the streak, but now we can just focus on winning the next game.”

The Yankees are 5-3 against the Blue Jays this season. The teams split a four-game series to open the season March 29-April 1 at the Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays won the season series in 2017, going 10-9, including 6-4 at the Rogers Centre, the third successive season in which they had the season advantage over New York.

Sabathia, who will pitch on six days’ rest, is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA in eight starts since returning from the disabled list (right hip strain) on April 19. He leads active major-league pitchers in career strikeouts (2,884) and complete games (38) and ranks second in wins (239), innings pitched (3,367 2/3) and starts (519) to Bartolo Colon (242 wins, 3,381 2/3 innings, 538 starts).

The 37-year-old is 17-11 with a 3.51 ERA in 33 career starts against the Blue Jays and is 10-8 with a 3.54 ERA against them as a Yankee. He has faced the Blue Jays twice this season (March 31 at the Rogers Centre and April 19 at Yankee Stadium), posting a 0.96 ERA without a decision. He was 2-2 with a 6.23 ERA against Toronto last year. He is 8-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 15 starts at Rogers Centre, his third-lowest career ERA in any ballpark (minimum 10 starts) behind Miller Park (2.11) and Safeco Field (2.08).

The Blue Jays’ rotation has performed well below expectations this season and Estrada has been one of the biggest flops. The 34-year-old has not won since April 20. In seven starts since, he is 0-5 with a 5.89. The team is 2-5 in those games.

He is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Yankees and is 7-3 with a 4.27 ERA in 17 career games (16 starts) against them.

Smoak has been a rare bright spot for the Blue Jays, reaching base safely in 49 of his 53 games.

The eight-run outburst was the highest by the Blue Jays since May 16 when they beat the New York Mets 12-1. The most they had scored in a game since was six, one time.

“Any time you can come up big with guys in scoring position, that is the name of the game and we were able to do that, and it’s one thing we have to continue to do to get back on track and hopefully we will be able to do that,” Smoak said.

“I feel like when we put runs on the board, we have a chance. It’s just a matter of getting going at the right time. We’ve had some guys do well in different spurts, but I feel like nobody has really got hot together at one time yet, so hopefully we can start doing that.”

Between games of the doubleheader Monday, the Yankees optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to Triple-A Scranton and activated right-hander Adam Warren (back strain) from the disabled list.

Warren pitched 1 1/3 innings of the second game Monday, allowing no runs, one hit and three walks while striking out one.

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