The Yankees and Blue Jays face off in Toronto this weekend in a rematch of last weekend’s dominant sweep by the Jays. This time, it could be for all the marbles.
It’s been a nightmare for the Yankees in the past few weeks. At one point, all signs pointing to them emerging from the pack of wolves in the AL East division. On July 28, the team had an eight-game lead, but if you blinked once, you now look at the standings and see New York is sitting in second place. How in the world does that happen?
After teetering between mediocrity and atrocity in the past two series to the tune of five straight losses, the Yankees responded with an offensive outburst on Thursday night to salvage the final game of the three-game set against the Indians. An 8-6 victory gave Nathan Eovaldi his 12th win of the season, and the Yankees their first win in what felt like ages. But they’re not out of the water just yet.
This upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays certainly has a different feel to the one that transpired last weekend. In that series, the Yankees held a 4.5-game lead over the Jays with arguably their most trusted (healthy) pitchers going. But as we witnessed, no goal came to fruition for the Bombers other than Toronto finally leaving town.
The Blue Jays, winners of 11 straight games, have looked immaculate lately. Everyone already knows what their offense is capable of. When you have guys like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion in your lineup, runs will come in droves. But the surprise has been their pitching. Since the All-Star Break, the Blue Jays’ team ERA is 2.38, which ranks second in all of baseball. And for all those thinking this is just a matter of having David Price, that’s just a product of ignoring reality.
Let’s take a look at some of the pitching stats for the Toronto staff after the break, which coincides with the team being unbelievably dominant. Marco Estrada is 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA. Mark Buehrle is 3-0 with 3.21 ERA. R.A Dickey is 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA.
Similar to basketball, where good defensive possessions end in rebounds for the defense, good pitching outings for starters end with the bullpen closing the door. And that has certainly been the case for Toronto, spearheaded by the emergence of rookie Roberto Osuna, who’s 8-for-8 in save opportunities with a 1.42 ERA in 12 games.
The Bronx Bombers will take their talents north of the border in what is shaping up to be the biggest series of the season thus far. They’ll undoubtedly have their hands full. Payback from last weekend’s massacre will be on their minds.
We’ll have a rematch, not only between the teams, but also with the pitchers slated to get the nod for both teams. Price, who pitched a a seven-inning shutout against the Yankees last Saturday, will be on the mound for the Jays in the opener. Ivan Nova will get the start for New York. Fans of both teams remember Nova’s 0-1 pitch to Justin Smoak that ended up in the seats in Yankee Stadium, which gave the Jays a 4-0 lead, one they’d never relinquish.
The second game of the set will bring forth another rematch between Estrada and Mashiro Tanaka. The Blue Jays’ righty pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball last Sunday and held the Yankees to just three hits. Tanaka didn’t pitch poorly, but Donaldson and Bautista took him deep (solo homers) and that ended up being just enough for Toronto. Tanaka should be well rested, having only thrown 80 pitches in this outing.
In the final game, it’ll be rookie right hander Luis Severino looking for his first major league win against Drew Hutchinson, who has definitely benefitted from the potency of the Jays lineup this season. Hutchinson is 11-2 with a 5.26 ERA. Against the A’s in his last start, he pitched seven innings and gave up two runs on four hits. Severino is coming off a no-decision against the Indians, in which he struggled early and pitched most of the game without his best stuff, but managed to keep his team in the game.
Get your popcorn ready. Order the pizzas. It’ll be a raucous crowd in Toronto, as their team will look to continue their dominance en route to a franchise record 12 straight wins. When’s the last time big series was attached to Yankees-Blue Jays this late in the season? Furthermore, when’s the last time the Yankees were looking up at the first-place Blue Jays in August? Well, that’s the reality. Ready yourselves for an AL East showdown.