The New York Yankees may have seen their last chance at catching the first-place Boston Red Sox slip away, blowing a three-run lead in a loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday. Assured of the top wild card, the Yankees have to decide how much effort they want to exert to catch Boston when they open a three-game series Friday against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
Aaron Judge continued his torrid final month, extending his hitting streak to 11 games by belting his American League-leading 51st homer - his 14th in September and one of four hit by New York in Thursday’s 9-6 loss. Greg Bird has homered in three straight games and owns four blasts to go along with nine RBIs during a six-game hitting streak for the Yankees, who trail the Red Sox by three games with three to play. Toronto has played its last six games against New York and Boston, going 4-2 and piling up 40 runs while hitting 10 homers against the Red Sox. Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez has swatted six homers and collected 11 RBIs during his six-game hitting streak.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, Sportsnet (Toronto), YES (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Joe Biagini (3-12, 5.34 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (12-12, 4.94)
Biagini made one mistake last time out against the Yankees and it was a biggie, serving up a three-run homer to Bird in the fifth inning that wrapped up a postseason berth for New York. He is winless over his last nine appearances, although he had to settle for a pair of no-decisions in two stellar starts against Baltimore in September. Judge is 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles against Biagini.
Tanaka was hit hard by the Blue Jays in Toronto in his last turn, surrendering three homers among six hits while giving up eight runs over 5 2/3 innings. He lasted only four innings in a no-decision at Toronto on Aug. 9, but beat the Blue Jays with seven innings of one-run ball on July 3 at Yankee Stadium. Josh Donaldson, Kendrys Morales and Ryan Goins are a combined 6-for-65 against Tanaka.
1. Judge belted his 32nd homer at Yankee Stadium, tying Babe Ruth for the most at home in franchise history.
2. Hernandez set a franchise rookie record with eight home runs in September.
3. Yankees SS Didi Gregorius is 4-for-25 in the last six games, including 1-for-12 against Toronto.
PREDICTION: Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3