The Toronto Blue Jays will be out to clinch a win of their three-game series against the New York Yankees Tuesday night at Buffalo and, more importantly, tighten their grip on second place in the American League East.
The Blue Jays made an emphatic statement Monday night in their first game of the season against the Yankees when they overcame a 6-2 deficit with a 10-run sixth inning to earn a 12-7 victory.
“It was special because it’s almost a playoff game every day,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “But the way we did it, down in a game and coming back. That was a great win.”
The Blue Jays (23-18) are two games ahead of the Yankees (21-20) in the division, with the Tampa Bay Rays in first by 4 1/2 games.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-2, 3.26 ERA) will make his third start for Toronto since being acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees will counter with former Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.68).
In two career starts against the Yankees, Walker is 0-2 with a 3.95 ERA. He has not faced them since 2016.
In seven career starts against the Blue Jays, Happ is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA.
Toronto’s big inning on Monday was capped by Danny Jansen’s first career grand slam. It was the first 10-run inning by the Blue Jays since Aug. 31, 2010, at Tampa Bay.
“I feel like I’ve been battling and struggling,” said Jansen, who entered the game batting .148 with three homers and nine RBIs. “The fact I could make an impact with a grand slam — that was just pure happiness.”
The victim of Jansen’s big hit was Adam Ottavino, who failed to get an out from six batters and was charged with six runs.
“I’ve never had an inning quite like that before,” Ottavino said. “It’s the worst feeling in the world.”
The Blue Jays are on a 9-4 surge while the Yankees have lost four in a row and are in a 5-14 drought. The Yankees occupied first place before their swoon.
The Yankees had nine hits, including three solo homers Monday, and have not reached double-digits in hits for 16 straight games, tied for the fourth-longest such streak in franchise history.
“I definitely feel as a team we have been pressing because we want to score runs,” said Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks, who had a home run on Monday. “We want that one blowout game where it is absolutely out of reach and we haven’t been able to do that.”
The Yankees also have been guilty of sloppy defense. First baseman Luke Voit made an error in the sixth on a grounder that should have been the second out. Voit has been one of New York’s few productive hitters and had two hits, including a home run, on Monday.
“We’ve only got three weeks to do this,” Hicks said. “We believe that we’re still a team that can do this. We’re just not producing right now. And we’re a team that’s used to producing and used to being at the top of all the charts in runs and all that stuff, but we’re just not doing it and believe we can be.”
–Field Level Media