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08/03/10 6:31 PM ET

Facing Marcum, Hughes eyes rebound

Based on Phil Hughes' performance since the All-Star break, the Yankees will be hoping for progress on Wednesday while the Blue Jays look to complete a three-game sweep in the Bronx.

The Yankees' starting rotation hasn't been performing as well as in April and May, and that is particularly the case with Hughes.

Since June 1, Hughes has posted an ERA of 5.34, which is nearly double the 2.70 ERA he sported at the end of May. In his last start against Toronto, on July 4, Hughes gave up homers to Lyle Overbay, DeWayne Wise and Adam Lind.

Hughes has yielded 16 home runs this season -- 15 of them at Yankee Stadium. He didn't give up a long ball on the road until his last start, against the Rays on Friday.

But it isn't just Hughes who is struggling -- it's most of the Yankees' rotation, and manager Joe Girardi knows something that adjustments needs to be made. Still, he isn't surprised by the struggles.

"You knew that they were going to have some bumps in the road," Girardi said. "We had some bumps in the first half, too -- we did. Like any position player, you're going to go through good times and you're going to go through struggles. The key is to keep those struggles short and maybe not have everyone struggling at the same time."

A.J. Burnett -- the losing pitcher on Monday night in the Bronx -- has also been unreliable of late. He has gone 3-6 in his past 10 starts, posting an ERA of 6.84 in that span. The Yankees have recognized his inconsistencies.

"Our job is to try to make guys better every day," Girardi said. "That's part of being a coach, and we'll continue to work with everybody and try to bring about improvements."

Opposing Hughes on Wednesday will be Shaun Marcum, who has experienced few struggles all season and none in three starts since returning from the disabled list on July 18.

In his last start, against the Indians on Friday, Marcum allowed one run on three hits and struck out a season-high 10 batters across seven innings.

Blue Jays: Power not a problem
Entering Tuesday's 8-2 win over the Yankees, the Jays led the Majors with 163 home runs this season, 24 ahead of the second-place Red Sox. Toronto extended its lead in the victory, hitting four long balls. Since the All-Star break, the Jays have hit 31 home runs, the most in the Majors. The Jays also lead the Majors with 414 extra-base hits. ... Outfielder Jose Bautista leads the Majors with nine home runs, 28 RBIs, and 17 extra-base hits since the All-Star break. Since July 4, Bautista has raised his batting average from .236 to .260 by hitting .347 (34-for-98) with eight doubles, 12 home runs and 32 RBIs in 25 games. That is the fourth-highest average in the American League during that span.

Yankees: Defending a title
Before Tuesday's loss, the Yankees were tied with the Rays for the best record in the Majors (66-39, .629 winning percentage). It was New York's best record after 105 games since 2004, when the team posted the same record. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees' record after 100 games (64-36) was the best record by a defending World Series champion since the 1968 Cardinals, who were 66-34 on their way to another World Series, which they lost to the Tigers. ... Outfielder Nick Swisher has hit four home runs in his past five games, including two in Monday's loss. His nine-game hitting streak came to an end on Tuesday, but he has hit safely in 14 of his past 16 games. ... The Yankees saw their streak of six straight wins against left-handed starters come to an end on Tuesday. They are 10-3 in their past 13 games against lefties. So far this season, New York has put up a 22-15 record against left-handed starters and has gone 12-7 at home against such pitchers.

Worth noting
The Jays and Yankees square off 18 times this season. Toronto is 5-3 against New York entering Wednesday and has won eight of the past 13 matchups, dating to last season. In their past 11 games at Yankee Stadium, the Jays have gone 6-5. Tuesday clinched Toronto's first series win in New York since Aug. 29-31, 2008.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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