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BAL@NYY: Burnett wins his third straight start

The series between the Yankees and Blue Jays that begins Tuesday night at Rogers Centre might be a short two-game set, but it's long on intrigue, and that starts on the mound.

Tuesday's series opener pits two right-handers who have looked good early in the season. Yankees starter A.J. Burnett looks to continue his bounce-back year, bringing a 3-0 record into the fray, and Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek, just 23, has impressed at every turn.

There's been early redemption for Burnett, who took some heat for a subpar 2010 season.

Burnett's last outing, which came on Wednesday against the Orioles, featured something he said he hadn't used in a game in 12 years -- a changeup to complement his mid-90s fastball and wicked curve. Burnett was egged on by the Yankees' new catcher, Russell Martin, to try the pitch, and it's paying off.

"He believes in it, and I'm starting to, more and more," Burnett said of Martin. "It's going to be a big pitch. I threw a lot of them in fastball counts, and it felt good."

"It's just something I saw in the bullpen in Spring Training -- it's got good action to it," Martin said. "He works it off the same plane, and the hitters see a fastball coming at them. The next thing you know, it dips. He gets a lot of ground balls with it."

The hard-hitting Blue Jays lineup should expect at least the 14 changeups the Orioles got in Burnett's last effort. Meanwhile, the Yankees should expect the total package from Drabek, who has shown he can compete at this level regardless of how sharp his command is.

In his last game, which took place on Wednesday against the Mariners in Seattle, Drabek threw only 59 of his 114 pitches for strikes and walked four batters. But he allowed only two runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Despite falling behind to most of the batters he faced, Drabek threw an effective sinker when behind in the count, and it worked.

"It was kind of like the last two games," said Drabek, who has walked 11 batters in 18 2/3 innings this season.

"I had to battle my way back. I would like to get ahead in the count, so I'm going to have to work on that in the upcoming [bullpen session]."

Yankees: Leaning on the homer?
With Brett Gardner hitting .140, Derek Jeter at .241 and Curtis Granderson at .239 after Sunday's 6-5 win over Texas, the Yankees have been getting the job done with the long ball rather than little ball. That's OK with manager Joe Girardi -- for now.

"A lot of our runs have come off home runs, but there's nothing wrong with that," Girardi said. "There have been teams that have been very successful that have scored runs that way. You want to believe you can create runs as well, as you talked about. And I think we can. I think we have enough speed and we have enough guys that can do some little things that we can create runs. But so far, it's been more -- I know one game, I think, we scored four runs and didn't hit a home run. We won the game by guys doing little things, and I think our guys are good at that."

• Second baseman Robinson Cano homered in his first at-bat on Sunday night and has a nine-game hitting streak, during which he's hitting .351 (13-for-37) with three homers, nine RBIs and five doubles.

• The Yankees have scored at least four runs in a Major League-high 12 games this year, going 9-3 in those contests.

Blue Jays: Men of steal
Coming into Tuesday's game, the Blue Jays have recorded 21 steals in 16 games this season. Travis Snider and Aaron Hill are tied for the club lead with five steals apiece, and both were within one of matching their personal highs of six steals in a season. Despite the high success total, Toronto has also been caught six times, but manager John Farrell said the team is prepared to live through the highs and lows of aggressive baserunning.

"We've had a lot of success as far as running the bases go, and you're not going to be right 100 percent of the time," Farrell said. "We don't want our aggressiveness curtailed for the fact that we gambled wrong in that situation.

"For us to really generate and to continue to cause a little disruption, that's a part of our offense, and we have to stick by that."

• The Blue Jays reacquired prospect Danny Farquhar from the A's on Monday for left-hander David Purcey, who was designated for assignment Tuesday. Farquhar was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 10th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He was sent to the Athletics as part of an offseason trade for outfielder Rajai Davis. Farquhar had appeared in four games this season for Triple-A Sacramento and had yet to allow an earned run while striking out nine in eight innings. He is expected to report to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Worth noting
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who could return from oblique/back/ribs stiffness in the Toronto series, needs only four RBIs to tie Carl Yastrzemski (1,844) for 10th on the all-time list. ... Although Drabek has made only six starts in the Major Leagues, one came against the Yankees. It took place Sept. 28 at Rogers Centre, and while Drabek took the loss, he turned in a quality start, giving up three runs in six innings while striking out four and walking one.

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