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Karstens, Yankees tune up for playoffs against Blue Jays

Sep 30, 2006 - 1:59 PM Toronto (85-75) at NY Yankees (97-63) 4:05 pm EDT

BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- After clinching home field advantage in the American League playoffs on Friday, the New York Yankees will have two games to tune up for postseason play.

Rookie Jeff Karstens will take the hill Saturday for the Yankees in the second game of a season-ending three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

New York clinched the AL's best record on Friday with a 7-2 win over the Blue Jays and losses by Detroit and Minnesota. The Yankees own tiebreakers over both squads should they end the season with the same record.

Gary Sheffield belted a three-run homer and Alex Rodriguez had three hits and an RBI as New York topped Toronto. Mike Mussina allowed just one run and two hits in six innings, striking out four without a walk. He did not allow a baserunner after Troy Glaus led off the second with his 38th home run.

Hours after learning that Randy Johnson has a herniated disk in his lower back, Mussina pitched well in preparation for his start in Game Two of the AL Division Series.

Karstens (2-1, 4.00 ERA) has pitched surprisingly well since making his first start on August 22 after being recalled from Class AAA Columbus. He is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in seven games - five starts - in his first stint in the major leagues.

In his only previous start against the Blue Jays, Karstens allowed three runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 6-3 win on September 19.

He will be opposed by Shaun Marcum (3-4, 4.92), who has struggled against the Yankees this year. He is 1-1 with an inflated 6.94 ERA in three starts against the first-place AL East club.

New York and Toronto both have gone 5-3 in their last eight games. The loss by the Blue Jays on Friday dropped them into a tie for second place in the division with Boston.

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