After back-to-back one-run victories, the New York Yankees will be out to complete a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night in Buffalo.
The Yankees won the opener 6-5 on Tuesday and escaped a ninth-inning jam to eke out a 3-2 victory on Wednesday.
With the latest results, the Yankees have found Sahlen Field, the Blue Jays’ temporary home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a friendlier venue this time around. New York was 2-5 at the usual home of the Triple-A Bisons last season.
With fans allowed to attend the games this season, the Yankees have had plenty of support from the crowd.
The Yankees went to Buffalo having lost three in a row overall and seven of nine. The two wins have pushed them into third place in the American League East, passing up the Blue Jays, who have lost three straight.
“We don’t need to be frustrated,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We’re playing good games, losing games like this. They’re tough, yes, but we’re playing good.”
The Yankees will start right-hander Michael King (0-3, 3.77 ERA) in the series finale. It will be his 11th appearance and fourth start this season. In two relief appearances covering nine innings against the Blue Jays in 2021, he has no wins or losses and a 1.00 ERA. He is 0-1 with a 5.65 ERA in five games (one start) in his career against Toronto.
The Blue Jays will recall T.J. Zeuch (0-2, 6.75 ERA) from Triple-A for the start. He made four appearances (two starts) with the Blue Jays before being optioned to the minors.
In seven outings (six starts) for the Bisons, Zeuch went 1-3 with a 4.37 ERA. He left his last start in the fifth inning after he was hit on the ankle by a line drive.
Zeuch has no decisions and a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season and is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in six games (three starts) against them overall.
The Yankees won Wednesday on a two-run, pinch-hit home run by Gary Sanchez in the seventh inning. Sanchez was on the bench because Kyle Higashioka is the usual catcher for Gerrit Cole, who started on the mound.
New York manager Aaron Boone said he did not consider starting Sanchez, who has been one of the few Yankees hitting well.
“No, again, he’s going to need a day off here in this stretch of games and I obviously like the Higgy-and-Cole pairing, and it kind of builds in a natural day in there,” Boone said before the game. “And, obviously, Gary will be ready, anytime in the game if we get a big spot and we need his bat.”
With Toronto’s Ross Stripling pitching well and holding a 2-1 lead, Boone’s decision to bring Sanchez off the bench was a game-changer.
“A serious surge of adrenaline,” Cole said, “and then I’ve got to lock it in.”
Sanchez took over behind the plate as Cole completed his eight-inning outing.
Stripling allowed only three hits in 6 2/3 innings and matched his season best with nine strikeouts.
The right-hander also had to mend some fences with teammates after the game. After Joe Panik made his second throwing error of the game in the sixth, Stripling berated the third baseman on the field.
“Joe, the awesome veteran and person that he is, took it in stride and said, ‘No hard feelings,’ but you can’t do anything worse than that to a teammate, and I feel terrible,” Stripling said.
–Field Level Media