Josh made the point earlier today that there’s simply not enough ways to describe how great the Yankees have been this year. There would be no jinxing today, as the Yankees went out and did what they’ve done all year — dominate as a pitching staff and find the timely hits.
It was a tall order to secure the series win today, even with Jameson Taillon on the mound, thanks to the Blue Jays sending out Alek Manoah. The Yankees have struggled to figure out the blue chip pitcher that has blossomed in his second year in the big leagues, but they managed to do it today. Manoah cruised through the first three innings, but Anthony Rizzo started a one-out rally with a walk in the fourth. Gleyber Torres singled out to center field to advance Rizzo, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa beat out a two-out infield single to load the bases.
That brought up Aaron Hicks, who has struggled mightily all year long. The Yankee lineup was without several starters including Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Donaldson, so someone was going to have to step up to keep the offense rolling today. The snake-bitten outfielder turned his fortune around for an afternoon with a double down the right field line that cleared the bases — his first extra-base hit with the bases loaded since 2017 — giving the Yankees a lead that they would never surrender.
On the other side of the ball Taillon set out to win the pitching duel that was lined up, and he delivered. Taillon turned away the Blue Jays at every opportunity — whether it was a leadoff walk to George Springer to start the game or a leadoff double to Ramiel Tapia to start the fifth inning, they couldn’t follow up with any consistency against Taillon. Their best chance came in the sixth inning, when a Springer walk and a Bo Bichette single gave the Jays runners on first and second with no-one out. Taillon answered back by getting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to fly out meekly to left and keeping Alejandro Kirk’s flyball to center in the park. Taillon turned the ball over to Michael King, who froze Teoscar Hernandez with a 98-mph fastball to end the threat.
The top half of the sixth gave the Yankees a chance to pad their lead, when Gleyber Torres hit a ball deep to center that Tapia trapped against the wall, but was initially ruled as an out. The Yankees challenged it and got the overturned call, and then after Joey Gallo moved the runner over on a fly ball Kiner-Falefa slapped a double while nearly falling over in the batter’s box to score the run.
From there, the two best relievers in baseball closed the door on Toronto. King stayed out for the seventh inning and worked around a one-out single from Matt Chapman, and then struck out two batters in the eighth before turning things over to Clay Holmes. Holmes stranded Springer, who had walked for the third time in the game earlier, by getting Kirk to ground out to third, and then sat the Jays down in order in the ninth. Holmes has now broken Mariano Rivera’s franchise records for consecutive scoreless innings and scoreless appearances, a feat that seems unthinkable but fits right in with the rest of the dominating performances that this team has put together.
The Yankees have now won nine straight games, and 16 of their last 17 — any way you look at it, this is the hottest team in baseball and the best team in baseball. They hold a 12-game lead in the AL East and can expand it with a series sweep tomorrow afternoon with Luis Severino set to get back on the mound after his start got skipped due to sickness. Yusei Kikuchi will be tasked with matching him, and that game will get underway at 1:37 pm EST.