While the Toronto Blue Jays are slugging their way back into the playoff race, the New York Yankees are hoping an appearance by their ace can help reverse a funk that is following a 13-game winning streak.
The Blue Jays seek their sixth straight win Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when they face Gerrit Cole and the slumping Yankees in the second game of a four-game series.
Toronto (74-62) has scored 42 runs in its winning streak and also is 8-1 in its past nine games. The Blue Jays hit four homers in an 8-0 win Monday and 14 during their winning streak to get within three games of the Yankees for the first wild-card spot.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 40th homer, collected three hits and is hitting .414 (24-for-58) during a career-high 14-game hitting streak.
“It seems like Vladdy’s been steady the whole time,” Toronto second baseman Marcus Semien said. “He takes his singles but he will take you deep too. He’s been so consistent this whole entire year. Even when people say he’s in a slump, he’s still probably hitting over .250, which is still good. So he’s so talented and he knows his swing too. So it’s scary I think.”
Semien also connected twice, hitting a solo shot in the first and his fifth career grand slam in the ninth. He has five of his career-high 37 homers during the winning streak.
Toronto may be without George Springer. The Blue Jays’ leadoff man is day-to-day with a knee contusion after fouling a ball of his leg in the eighth on Monday.
The Yankees won 13 straight from Aug. 14-27 but are 2-7 since their longest run in 60 years. New York dropped its third straight when it followed up a pair of one-run losses to the Baltimore Orioles by getting five hits and one at-bat with a runner in scoring position Monday.
“We’re not timely hitting, not getting the outs when we need them. But I think it’s just the grind of the game,” New York first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “And when you’re winning, you never think you’re gonna lose. And when you get into a little rut, it’s hard to get out of it.”
Despite Monday’s tough day at the plate, New York (78-59) enters Tuesday a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race.
The most notable struggles came from Joey Gallo, who struck out four times and might get Tuesday off. Gallo is hitting .130 (16-for-123) with 61 strikeouts in 35 games since being acquired from the Texas Rangers.
Cole (14-6, 2.73), who looks to reach 15 wins for the fourth time in his career, is coming one of his most dominant starts with the Yankees. On Wednesday, he helped the Yankees stop a four-game losing streak when he allowed one run and struck out 15 in a 4-1 win over the host Los Angeles Angels.
Since missing more than two weeks following a positive test for COVID-19, Cole is 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in four starts, a stretch that follows him pitching to a 4.68 ERA in his previous 10 outings. Since returning, Cole has accumulated 39 strikeouts and issued just four walks in 24 2/3 innings.
Cole is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts against Toronto this season He is 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA in seven starts against the Blue Jays.
Steven Matz (10-7, 3.80), who can match his career-high for victories, goes for Toronto. Matz went 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA two seasons ago for the New York Mets, who traded him to Toronto after he was 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA last season.
Since getting 10th win on Aug. 15 at Seattle, Matz has recorded three straight no-decisions and a 2.12 ERA. The left-hander last pitched in Toronto’s 5-4 win over Baltimore on Wednesday when he allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, marking the 13th time he has allowed two runs or fewer.
The Long Island native is 2-3 with a 5.77 ERA in eight career games (six starts) against the Yankees. He last faced them on May 25 in New York when he allowed one run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings while getting 10 strikeouts.
–Field Level Media