W2W4: Yankees at Blue Jays (Friday)

CC Sabathia Stats2Watch4

Sabathia needs one win to become the 11th Yankees pitcher with at least two consecutive 20-win seasons, the first since Tommy John in 1979 and 1980. Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez (1931-1932) and John are the only lefties to have two 20-win seasons in a row.

Sabathia has won his last seven decisions against the Blue Jays. The record for consecutive wins against the Blue Jays, found via the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, is 10, by ex-Yankee Larry Gura, whose double-digit run came entirely with the Royals.

Five of those seven wins for Sabathia have come in pinstripes. In the spirit of Yankeemetrics, Sabathia will try to become the fourth Yankees pitcher to win six straight decisions against the Royals, joining Mike Mussina (7), Roger Clemens (6) and Luis Tiant (6).

One last Sabathia superlative: During this run against the Blue Jays, they are 35-for-190 against him, a .184 opponents batting average.

Matchup to Watch4

Jose Bautista is 0-for-18 against Sabathia, including 0-for-7 this season.

The Yankees have done their darnedest this season to stay away from Bautista’s power spot. Of the 202 pitches they’ve thrown to him this season, only 33 have been located on the inner-third of the plate (or further inside) via our pitch-performance data.

Bautista has four home runs against the Yankees, all coming on pitches on the outer-third, his weakest area when it comes to isolated power (a stat that measures slugging percentage, subtracting singles).

The Curse of Joe Girardi?

Remember the last time the Yankees were in Toronto, the Blue Jays scored 23 runs in the first two games of the series, and Girardi brought up the possibility that the Blue Jays were stealing signs.

Toronto Blue Jays at Home
2011 Season

Since the first two games of that series, the Blue Jays have played 31 games at home and they haven’t fared so well with their bats. You can see the significant differences in performance in the chart on the right.

Dustin McGowan Stats2Watch4

Alex Rodriguez won't return just yet. He has ugly numbers against the fill-in Blue Jays starter. He's 1-for-15 against McGowan (a hair better than Nick Swisher, who is 1-for-13) and 0-for-his-last 11 against him.

His numbers against McGowan are his second-worst against any pitcher. He's 1-for-18 against Darrell May.

Stat of the Day

A few weeks ago, our colleague Chris Fallica (the Stats & Info brains behind College Gameday) made a point to us about the difficulty of a hitter facing Mariano Rivera for the first time.

We were reminded of this when Rivera got his 600th save, when he whiffed overmatched Mariners rookie Kyle Seager in the ninth inning prior to Ichiro Suzuki’s. caught stealing.

Doug Glanville wrote an article about Rivera recently and noted how lucky he felt just to hit a foul ball against him in their first meeting.

He’s not the only one.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that opposing hitters are hitting .181 the first time they face Rivera. Righties hit .202 in their debuts against Rivera, but that looks pretty good compared to what lefties do- they hit .155.