Things are going so well for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien and the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays that their latest win pushed the New York Yankees out of the first wild-card spot in the American League.
The Blue Jays seek an eighth straight win and a four-game sweep of the host Yankees on Thursday night.
Toronto (76-62) is 7-2 in the Bronx this season after outscoring New York 19-4 in the first three games of the series. The Blue Jays kept it going with a 6-3 win on Wednesday that took nearly four hours to complete because they drew 11 walks, their most since also getting 11 at Texas on Aug. 26, 2015.
Guerrero hit his 41st homer and second of the series, a night after his career-high, 14-game hitting streak was snapped. Guerrero leads the majors with a .320 average and is batting .400 (26-for-65) with five homers and 10 RBIs in his past 16 games.
“He’s a stud, man,” Blue Jays rookie starter Alek Manoah said of the 22-year-old first baseman. “Just everything he’s doing for our team and the way he’s been able to battle even through some down stretches throughout the year, he’s finding ways to stay together and keep the team together and keep some positivity.”
Semien contributed a two-run single, scored the tiebreaking run on a single by Teoscar Hernandez and reached base four times. Over his past eight games, Semien is batting .370 (10-for-27) with six homers and 13 RBIs.
The big performances from Semien and Guerrero helped the Blue Jays win for the 10th time in 11 games to go from being 9 1/2 games back of the Yankees to 1 1/2 back. Toronto’s latest win pushed New York into the second wild-card spot when the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays.
“The whole team is doing a great job, pitching, defense and our lineup has been outstanding,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Our lineup is hot.”
New York (78-61) vaulted to the top of the wild-card race by winning 13 straight from Aug. 14-27.
It was New York’s longest run since 1961, but now the Yankees are on a five-game losing streak and are 2-9 in their past 11 games. The Yankees have not held a lead since the seventh inning Sunday during an 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
“We know we have the guys capable, but we got to get it done,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s a little bit of a broken record this week, I understand that, but this is the group that we absolutely believe in and we got to get this thing turned around and (I) believe we will, but it’s certainly been a frustrating several days for us on the offensive side.”
On Wednesday, the Yankees attempted to get things rolling with an altered lineup, moving Brett Gardner to the leadoff spot, sliding DJ LeMahieu to fifth and putting Joey Gallo sixth after sitting him Tuesday.
Gardner hit a game-tying, three-run homer that was New York’s first extra-base hit since Gary Sanchez slugged a two-run shot in the sixth on Sunday. Aaron Judge continued to struggle as his hitless skid reached 22 at-bats before an infield single.
The New York bats hope to bounce back Thursday against Jose Berrios (10-7, 3.55 ERA), who will make his eighth start since being acquired from the Minnesota Twins. Berrios is 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA with the Blue Jays and is seeking his third straight win.
Berrios went 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in four starts from Aug. 7-24 but is 2-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his past two outings. Berrios last pitched on Saturday against the Oakland Athletics, when he allowed three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings while throwing 103 pitches, his highest total with Toronto.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees.
New York’s Nestor Cortes Jr. (2-2, 2.67 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season. He did not get a decision Friday when he allowed one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Orioles.
Cortes is 1-1 with a 6.17 ERA in six career relief appearances against Toronto.
–Field Level Media