OAKLAND, Calif. -- The New York Yankees, who are chasing Toronto in the American League East, will have a chance to make up some ground during a three-game series against the Blue Jays that begins Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Toronto series kicks off a stretch of 15 straight games against division foes for the Yankees -- six against the Blue Jays and three each against the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.
"You don't want to make too much of it, but it's obviously an important period when you're going to see the teams we're going to see," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday before the Yankees ended a 5-4 road trip with a 10-5 loss to Oakland. "Just a huge stretch against East Coast teams, and you have a chance to make up ground, put distance between other teams and yourself, so I think it's really important.
"When I look at our schedule, it's kind of weird. We're done on the West Coast, we're done with National League teams for the most part -- we have a few against Cincy. So obviously we need to start playing some teams in our own division."
The Blue Jays finished last in the East in 2013 with a 74-88 record, but they are off to a 41-30 start this season and lead the Yankees and Orioles by 4 1/2 games.
"They've swung the bats extremely well," Girardi said of the Blue Jays. "They play good defense and they've pitched well. ... They've played extremely well, and they've been consistent."
The Blue Jays never lived up to their hype entering the 2013 season, but Girardi said he certainly hasn't overlooked or underestimated them.
"No, because you knew how dangerous they were offensively," the New York skipper said. "They went through some injuries last year just like everybody else. Sometimes it's hard to overcome those. They've had a pretty consistent rotation for the most part this year. They've had to make some changes. They've had some guys that have gotten off to great starts, but we knew that they were very talented."