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Hughes starts for Yankees in critical series finale

09/30/2012 10:41 AM ET
By The Associated Press

Phil Hughes is 0-2 with a 8.68 ERA in two road starts against the Blue Jays this season.(AP)

(AP) -- Playing at Rogers Centre hasn't suited Phil Hughes or the Yankees well this year.

Hughes has dropped both of his road starts against the Blue Jays in 2012 and he'll try to help the Yankees salvage a four-game split Sunday.

New York (91-67) still has yet to clinch a playoff spot and the AL East race with Baltimore will come down to the final series for both clubs. The Yankees host Boston starting Monday while the Orioles begin a three-game set at Tampa Bay the same day.

The Yankees fell to 3-5 at Toronto (70-88) this year with Saturday's 3-2 defeat.

Nick Swisher had two hits and is 4-for-10 in the series. New York, though, hasn't gotten much help from other key hitters in this set, with Curtis Granderson 1-for-11 and Alex Rodriguez 1-for-10.

"(Sunday) is going to be a must-win," Swisher said. "We put ourselves in this situation, our destiny is in our own hands and we've got to go out and take it. No one is going to give us anything."

New York will give the ball to Hughes (16-13, 4.10 ERA). He has faced Toronto five times this year, with the venue making a huge difference in how he has fared.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three home outings against the Blue Jays, but 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA on the road. He's had trouble with Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who is 6-for-14 with four extra-base hits against him in 2012.

Hughes posted a 2.95 ERA in winning three straight starts before giving up four runs over 6 2/3 innings Tuesday to suffer a 5-4 defeat at Minnesota. He didn't allow a home run, although he has yielded a career-high 34 to rank among the worst in the Majors.

He may also be concerned about facing Rajai Davis, who has three doubles in nine at-bats against Hughes this year. Davis sat out Thursday's series opener before going 7-for-8 over the next two games, including a homer off Andy Pettitte on Saturday.

It was part of a frustrating afternoon for the Yankees, who went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 on the bases.

"We had chances to blow that game open and we didn't," manager Joe Girardi said. "You look at the opportunities that you have and you say, 'We could have a pretty big lead here,' but we didn't do it."

Robinson Cano has posted five straight multihit efforts, going 12-for-19 in that span. He was hit in the left hand by a pitch in the sixth inning of Friday's 11-4 victory, but stayed in the game for two more at-bats and batted cleanup again Saturday.

Cano is 5-for-8 with two homers and two doubles in his career against Henderson Alvarez (9-14, 4.91), who is scheduled to start Sunday for Toronto. Alvarez is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this year -- all in New York.

Granderson and Rodriguez could get untracked Sunday, with each having gone 3-for-9 against the right-hander.

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