New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will be out to clinch a crucial series and further strengthen his team’s grip on an American League wild-card spot Wednesday night against the host Toronto Blue Jays.
The right-hander’s outing is well-timed, following the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series between wild-card contenders.
Six pitchers held the Blue Jays to three hits as the Yankees stretched their winning streak to seven games. The New York relief corps was taxed when starter Jameson Taillon exited after 2 1/3 innings due to a recurrence of an ankle injury.
“It wasn’t so much us, their bullpen did a good job,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Meanwhile, the Yankees got a three-run home run from Giancarlo Stanton and solo shots from Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela.
Stanton has homered in four consecutive games for the third time in his career and he has reached 35 in a season for the fifth time in his career.
“You’ve got to be prepared, you’ve got to do your homework and just zone in on what you need to do,” Stanton said. “At the end of the day, it’s still the same game we’ve been playing our whole lives. You’ve got to be able to overcome those moments.”
The Yankees (90-67) occupy the first AL wild-card spot with a two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (88-69), who hold the second spot despite losing 4-2 to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays (87-70) remain one game behind the Red Sox, and they now trail the Mariners (88-70) by a half-game after Seattle beat the Oakland A’s later Tuesday night.
Cole (16-8, 3.08 ERA) has 237 strikeouts, the third most by a Yankee in a single season in club history, trailing Ron Guidry (248 in 1978) and Jack Chesbro (239 in 1904).
He is 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA in eight starts since being reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list on Aug. 16.
Cole is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts this season against the Blue Jays and 5-1 with a 2.81 ERA in eight career starts against them.
Toronto will start Jose Berrios (12-9, 3.48 ERA). The right-hander is 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA in 11 starts since he joined the Blue Jays in a trade-deadline deal with the Minnesota Twins.
Berrios beat the Yankees in his lone start against them this season, tossing 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball on Sept. 9. He is 2-2 with a 4.79 ERA in four career starts against New York.
The Blue Jays reinstated infielder Cavan Biggio from the injured list Tuesday and optioned left-hander Ryan Borucki to Triple-A Buffalo. Biggio, who had been sidelined due to mid-back tightness, did not play Tuesday night after completing a rehab assignment with Buffalo.
“He’s continued to have better at-bats with the team in Triple-A, so we’ll see (how the versatile Biggio is used),” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “We’re going position-player heavy, with some confidence in our pitching staff and the way that we can deploy the entire 28-man roster as we have in the prior weeks. I think it could be off the bench.”
Toronto outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. returned as a designated hitter Tuesday and was 0-for-4. He had missed three games after needing two stitches in his right middle finger following a freak outfield accident.
The Yankees are expected to add right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga (right shoulder strain) to the bullpen Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone said before the Tuesday game. Loaisiga had been the Yankees’ most effective reliever. Before allowing a run in his most recent outing, Sept. 3 before landing on the IL, Loaisiga had given up just one run in 15 appearances covering 18 2/3 innings.
–Field Level Media