September 23, 2017 / 11:38 PM / a month ago

Preview: Yankees at Blue Jays

The New York Yankees, with the exception of Aaron Judge, were unable to get their offense through customs in the series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, denting their chances of winning the American League East. New York still is in control of the top wild-card, leading Minnesota by 5 1/2 games with nine to play entering the second of three games in Toronto on Saturday.

The Yankees managed only three hits in Friday’s 8-1 drubbing, with Judge reaching base four times and supplying the lone run with his 46th homer to move closer to Mark McGwire’s major-league rookie record of 49. New York has had problems putting up runs to support right-hander Sonny Gray, who takes a 3-6 record with the Yankees into Saturday’s start despite a 3.29 ERA in that span. Gray has held Ryan Goins to one hit in seven at-bats, but he will want to avoid facing him with the bases loaded -- Goins belted a grand slam in Friday’s rout and is 10-for-14 with 20 RBIs with the sacks full this season. Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak is 0-for-9 in his last three games and has homered only once in his last 16 games to remain two shy of 40.

TV: 4:07 p.m. ET, MLB Network, YES (New York), TVA Sports (Toronto), Sportsnet (Toronto)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33)

Gray is coming off his worst effort since he was acquired from Oakland at the trade deadline, lasting only four innings and giving up four runs over six innings in a loss to Baltimore on Sunday. He had allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his previous eight starts, including a 4-0 setback in Toronto on Aug. 10. Gray has stymied sluggers Smoak and Kendrys Morales, holding them to a combined 4-for-41.

Since returning to the starting rotation late last month, Biagini has been plagued by wildly erratic performances, alternating three wretched outings around a pair of superb ones. He got only four outs at Minnesota on Sunday and was charged with six runs (four earned), which followed eight innings of two-run ball versus Baltimore five days earlier. Biagini held New York to one earned run in seven innings on June 3.

WALK-OFFS

1. Judge is 7-for-17 with three homers and six RBIs during a five-game hitting streak.

2. Goins tied Carlos Delgado’s franchise record with 10 bases-loaded hits in a season.

3. Yankees 1B Chase Headley has gone 12 games with an extra-base hit.

PREDICTION: Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3

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