There is obvious hype coming into tonight’s game. Not only is it the first matchup of the season between the Blue Jays and the Yankees, but the baseball gods thought it’d be great to have it be Doc Halladay against A.J. Burnett right out of the gates.
After three years as the No. 2 behind Halladay, Burnett opted out of his deal with Toronto and signed a 5-year, $82.5 million deal with the Bronx Bombers over the winter. That left Halladay and a rotation filled with question marks. Manager Cito Gaston downplayed the “importance” of tonight’s contest.
“I think they’re all big games,” Gaston said. “I think if you win one in May, you don’t have to win one in September. I take from Day 1 as being all big games. You play them and play each day and play as hard as you can to win them. All games are big games for me. The only difference is who’s pitching tonight.”
As for some news today, Gaston and GM J.P. Ricciardi both said that B.J. Ryan will not be Toronto’s closer when he returns from the 15-day disabled list, and he could “conceivably” be activated before the end of this homestand, according to Ricciardi. Downs will remain the closer. Ryan’s role is uncertain.
“Ultimately, I thinnk B.J. will get back to being a closer at some point,” Ricciardi said. “But right now Downs has got the role and it’s tough to argue with the club playing so well. That’s the thing that you respect about B.J. is he’s a team guy and he understands that.”
Casey Janssen is starting for Double-A New Hampshire tonight and Ricky Romero will follow suit tomorrow. Both are set to rejoin the rotation some time in the near future. As for Jesse Litsch (right elbow), Ricciardi said that it’s now looking like he won’t be back until June: We might as well take our time and get him right.”
It helps that pitchers Scott Richmond, Brett Cecil and Brian Tallet have pitched so well with all the other arms out. That also says something about a staff that was riddled with question marks after Burnett’s departure. Burnett is 2-0 with a 5.26. Toronto’s four rookie arms (Richmond, Cecil, Romero and Robert Ray) have combined to go 7-2 with a 2.85 ERA this year.
1. Brett Gardner, CF
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixiera, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Robinson Cano, 2B
7. Melky Cabrera, RF
8. Kevin Cash, C
9. Ramiro Pena, SS
Starter: RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0)
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Scott Rolen, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Travis Snider, LF
Starter: RHP Roy Halladay (6-1)