The Toronto Blue Jays are in the race for a playoff spot and their 3 game series against the Yankees this week would either help them push forward, or set them back. The Yankees were projected to win the AL East and began this year at the top. However, they have been struggling as of late due to injuries and poor performances by their key players. With the Tampa Bay Rays seemingly breaking away with the division lead, the Blue Jays and Yankees find themselves in a race for second in the division to secure a non-wildcard playoff spot.
The game started off well for the Yankees, who hit back-to-back home runs by 1B Luke Voit (14th) and OF Aaron Hicks (4th) in the top of the first inning. The Blue Jays would tie the score at 2 with an RBI double by 1B/DH Rowdy Tellez in the first inning and an RBI single by INF Santiago Espinal in the 2nd. The score remained tied through the 4th when Yankees’ 3B/DH Miguel Andujar hit a home run (1st) to take a 3-2 lead. The lead would extend to 5-2 on a Clint Frazier 2-run double in the 5th, and then to 6-2 on an Aaron Hicks bases-loaded walk in the 6th.
Entering the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays were down 6-2 and facing Yankees’ righty Chad Green. The inning led off with Espinal walking, then after C Danny Jensen hit a flyout, RF/2B Cavan Biggio and OF Randal Grichuk hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. The Yankees then changed pitchers and RHP Adam Ottavino took the mound. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled, scoring Espinal and Biggio and moved Grichuk to 3rd. Guerrero made his first career stolen base, followed by OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.‘s RBI single which brought Tellez home, moved Guerrero to 3rd base, and tied the game at 6.
At this point, there are runners on 1st and 3rd with INF Jonathan Villar at the plate. Villar walks, and 3B Travis Shaw hits a 2-Run Single, scoring Guerrero, and Grriel to give Toronto an 8-6 lead and moving Villar to 2nd base. The Blue Jays had batted around the lineup by this point bringing it back to Espinal. 2B Joe Panik pinch hit for Espinal and drew a walk, sending Shaw to 2nd and Villar to 3rd. Catcher Danny Jansen, who is the only player in the inning who got out, steps up to bat for the second time in the inning. Jansen launches a 417-foot grand slam(4th) to cap off the 10-run inning and jump the score from 8-6 to 12-6. The Yankees would finally take Ottavino out of the game and replace him with RHP Luis Cessa, who would get both Biggio and Grichuk to fly out to end the inning.
The 10 run inning would prove to be the difference-maker as the Blue Jays would defeat the Yankees by a final score of 12-7, with the Yankees scoring their final run on an RBI Fielder’s choice in the 9th inning.
The Blue Jays improve their record to 23-18 and are 2 games ahead of the Yankees for the 2nd playoff spot from the AL East division and 4.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the division lead. The Yankees fall to 21-20 and have lost 14of their last 19 games and are now 6.5 back of the Rays for the division lead. This game shows that the Blue Jays are not afraid to take on anyone and are serious when it comes to being a playoff contender. If the Jays do make the postseason, it will be the first time since 2016, when they were eliminated by the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.