"I know he has a son at Northwestern that got Big 10 Pitcher of the Week last week and overcame quite an ordeal a couple of years ago," said Girardi. "John Farrell has been in baseball a long time and has been successful wherever he's went. He had a great run in Boston as a pitching coach, and their staffs were always very good, but their club's a little different in a sense. When you add a Rajai Davis and you add a Corey Patterson, there is a little bit more speed, but I think it's a function of him and recognizing what you have. If you have guys that can steal bases, you take advantage of that."
Girardi, indeed, was pointing to one of the clear distinguishing characteristics of Farrell's first managing job. Toronto nabbed just 58 stolen bases last year under manager Cito Gaston but already has 27 thefts under Farrell. Some of that is undoubtedly personnel, but Girardi also believes that the Blue Jays reflect their manager's philosophy.
"They're a much more aggressive club," he said. "Davis obviously came over and he loves to run, but you saw guys like Aaron Hill running more, Travis Snider running more, and it's a different type of ball club in that sense than it has been in the past. Yes, they still are a team that if you make a mistake they're going to hurt you in the strike zone, but they're much more aggressive."
Davis, in fact, has been kept off the basepaths by the twin factors of an injury and a slow start. Hill leads the Blue Jays with six thefts. Patterson and second baseman Jayson Nix have three stolen bases apiece, and Davis came off the disabled list in time to steal two bases in the series opener.
The pitching matchup should seem familiar on Saturday in that it features a former Blue Jay and a youngster with a quite memorable bloodline. A.J. Burnett will go for the Yankees, and he'll be trying for his fourth win in six outings. Toronto, meanwhile, will counter with Kyle Drabek, son of Doug, who won 155 games in the Majors (and seven with the Yankees).
The younger Drabek first made headlines when he was the 18th overall selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and he's held his own in the big leagues this season. The right-hander has pitched into the sixth inning in all five of his starts, and Toronto has yet to lose when he takes the mound. He has allowed more than three earned runs just once this season.
Blue Jays: Bautista dominating on offense
This fairy tale refuses to fade into the scenery. Jose Bautista inspired a lot of questions during Spring Training about whether he could provide a fitting encore to his 54-homer campaign in 2010, and the early indicators seem to be on his side. Bautista homered on Friday night and has now reached base safely in 22 of his last 23 games played this season.
Bautista, plainly and simply, has been the AL's most dominant player in 2011. The left fielder went into Friday's game leading the league in batting average (.360) and on-base percentage (.529), and he augmented that by reaching base four times in five plate appearances. He now has six home runs and 14 runs scored in his last nine starts.
Yankees: Burnett out to extend trend
The Yankees will have the strength of an interesting pitching trend on their side on Saturday. New York's starter has allowed three earned runs or fewer in eight straight games, the team's longest stretch in that department since the 2002 campaign. Burnett, interestingly enough, has given up three runs or fewer in four of his five starts this season.
Burnett's most recent start -- and his only loss this season -- was actually his most effective outing. The right-hander worked eight innings and allowed just three hits earlier in the week against the White Sox, but that lone run stood up, and New York lost by a 2-0 score. Burnett, for his career, is 19-10 with a 3.79 ERA in April.
The Yankees were the last team to lose consecutive games this season and have yet to lose a series at home. ... The elder Drabek went 7-8 with a 4.10 ERA as a rookie for the Yankees in 1986 and was subsequently traded to Pittsburgh. ... Second baseman Robinson Cano was presented his 2010 Silver Slugger Award before Friday night's game. ... The Yankees are outscoring their opponents, 45-14, in the first two innings this season. ... Seventeen of Toronto's 26 games this season have been decided by two runs or fewer. The Blue Jays are 8-9 in those circumstances. ... The Yankees are 2-3 in their last five games.