Yankees aim to hold off Blue Jays in wild-card race

MLB Baseball

A few weeks ago, the New York Yankees heated up and vaulted to the top of the American League wild-card race. Now it is the Toronto Blue Jays who are making a charge in the standings.

The Yankees hope to rediscover their offense while the Blue Jays seek a season-high seventh straight victory Wednesday night when the AL East foes continue a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees won 13 straight Aug. 14-27 but since then, they are 2-8 with a pair of four-game losing streaks. After losing two one-run games to the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, New York has scored once and has not gotten an extra-base hit or a walk in each of the first two games against the Blue Jays.

Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single accounted for New York’s lone run in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss that followed up an 8-0 defeat on Monday. Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 and was among New York’s hitters to hit a few balls to the warning track, a fact that encouraged manager Aaron Boone.

“We had some guys that hit the ball OK today compared to yesterday but the bottom line is we gotta be better,” Boone said. “We got our guys now and if we’re going to be the team we hope to be, our offense has to carry that freight for us. So, we gotta get it rolling.”

Among those whom Boone is hoping to get going is Joey Gallo, who was held out of Tuesday’s game after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Monday. Gallo is 1-for-19 in his past five games and hitting .130 since being acquired from the Texas Rangers on July 29.

“Hopefully just a day for him to kind of catch his breath a bit and hopefully something he can really benefit from,” Boone said.

New York (78-60) still remains one half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the first wild card, but its lead over Toronto (75-62) is down to two games.

Toronto is 9-1 in its past 10 games. The Blue Jays have homered in 10 straight games and hit multiple homers in eight of those contests.

On Tuesday, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s career-high 14-game hitting streak was stopped, but Marcus Semien continued his homer binge and Alejandro Kirk homered twice.

“Pitching, defense and hitting, we’re doing it all right now,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Semien is up to 38 homers this season and has homered six times in his past six games. He hit a solo shot Tuesday after hitting a solo homer and a grand slam Monday.

“We’re having fun, we’re playing good,” Toronto left-hander Steven Matz said. “You can kind of sense it. We’re playing important baseball in September and that’s what we want to do.”

Rookie Alek Manoah (5-2, 3.63 ERA), who made his major league debut in New York over three months ago, starts for Toronto. In the first game of a doubleheader on May 27, Manoah allowed two hits and struck out seven in six innings of a 2-0 win.

Manoah went 2-1 with a 1.02 ERA in three July starts but over his past six outings, he is 2-1 with 5.34 ERA. He last pitched in Friday’s 11-10 win over Oakland and took a no-decision after allowing six runs on five hits in five innings.

Luis Gil (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will rejoin the Yankees for his fourth career start. Gil made three starts last month when he allowed nine hits and struck out 18 in 15 2/3 innings.

–Field Level Media

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