Blue Jays top Yankees in regular-season finale
NEW YORK -- For different reasons, the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees were eager to get their regular-season finale done quickly.
Not much was at stake Sunday when Toronto edged New York 2-1 in a game decided on an RBI groundout in front of the plate by Ryan Goins in the eighth inning.
For the Blue Jays, it was chance to plot their next step after being unable to recover from a slow start to the season and ultimately finishing well out of postseason contention after playing for the American League pennant the previous two seasons.
“It wasn’t what we wanted obviously, but always good to finish on a good note which was a win today,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons, whose team finished fourth in the AL East. “What that means, who knows.”
For the Yankees, it was a final tuneup before starting the postseason Tuesday in the wild-card game against the Minnesota Twins.
The teams played briskly, getting to the seventh-inning stretch in less than two hours and finishing the game in two hours, 28 minutes.
Toronto, which finished 76-86 after an 8-17 start, fielded a lineup without Josh Donaldson while Jose Bautista was lifted after two plate appearances. Justin Smoak started but missed a chance to reach 40 homers by going 0-for-4.
“I like our team,” Toronto catcher Russell Martin said. “I like what our team’s made of. We just didn’t perform like we should have.”
New York, which finished 91-71 for its best record since 2012, sat Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier started but exited after their first at-bats.
“We probably have a couple to make,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was eager to get the finale completed quickly so he can start plotting a roster for Tuesday. “Probably 9 or 10 pitchers and 15 position players, so there’s a couple spots we want to look at.”
Bautista left for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Before exiting, he hit a single off the left field wall in the second and lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, ending the season at .203 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs.
It also might have been Bautista’s final appearance for the Blue Jays, who re-signed him in January on a one-year deal with an option for next season.
”I don’t look at the numbers too much,“ Bautista said. ”I can’t change them. Other than just get ready for next season and be ready to contribute to the team that I‘m with at that time.
“Right now, I‘m a Toronto Blue Jay. That hasn’t changed. I’ve said it all along, this is where I want to be and finish my career. We’ll see what happens. It’s out of my control right now.”
The Yankees tied the game when Matt Holliday slugged his 19th homer with one out in the seventh. Holliday was the only regular who completed the game.
“It’s fun and exciting,” Holliday said of the looming wild-card game. “That’s why you play the game. I‘m looking forward to Tuesday.”
The Blue Jays put runners at second and third when Goins hit a weak grounder against Domingo German (0-1) just in front of catcher Austin Romine as Rob Refsnyder easily scored.
Danny Barnes (3-6) put two on after Holliday homered but recorded a pair of groundouts and was credited with the win when the Blue Jays scored in the eighth. Roberto Osuna retired the side in the ninth for his 39th save.
New York rookie Jordan Montgomery allowed one run on two hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“It’s been awesome,” said Montgomery, whose 29 starts are the fifth-most by a Yankee rookie. “It’s about the best time to be young and a Yankee right now.”
About the only thing of significance for the Yankees was getting Adam Warren into his first game after missing over three weeks with a back injury. Warren threw 13 pitches in a scoreless inning before the Blue Jays regained the lead.
Toronto’s Brett Anderson allowed three hits in five innings.
NOTES: After the bottom of the third inning, the Yankees announced to fans they are significantly expanding protective netting at Yankee Stadium and at their spring training field in Tampa, Fla. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would likely carry nine or 10 pitchers for Tuesday’s wild-card game versus the Minnesota Twins. ... Toronto RF Jose Bautista made his 11th start as the DH after expressing to manager John Gibbons he wanted to play Sunday. ... New York RF Aaron Judge was presented with an inscribed Waterford Crystal Gavel by GM Brian Cashman and amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer for setting the rookie home run record with 52.