TORONTO — Bo Bichette hit a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning — his second homer of the game — to power the Toronto Blue Jays to a much-needed 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
Jordan Romano closed things out for his 22nd save as Toronto halted New York’s seven-game winning streak and moved two games behind the Yankees in the battle for the two American League wild-card spots.
New York holds the first spot and is just one game up on the Boston Red Sox, who kept their hold on the second spot with a 6-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto moved into a tie with the Seattle Mariners, who were also one game behind Boston entering their late game against the Oakland Athletics.
The Yankees and Blue Jays will close out their three-game series Thursday night. Both teams have four games left to play.
Marcus Semien had the other Toronto homer as the Blue Jays took a 5-2 lead into the sixth inning behind a solid start from Jose Berrios. The Yankees scored once in the sixth and tied the game in the seventh when Kyle Higashioka hit a two-run single off reliever Tim Mayza.
Berrios struck out the side in the first inning and the Blue Jays’ offence staked him to an early lead.
George Springer put a charge in the announced crowd of 29,601 with a leadoff double off Yankees starter Gerrit Cole and scored when Semien turned on a 97-m.p.h. fastball for his 44th homer.
The blast put Semien ahead of Davey Johnson (1973 New York Mets) for the all-time record for home runs by a second baseman in a season.
Springer helped pad the lead in the second inning as the Blue Jays pushed Cole’s pitch count to 40. With Santiago Espinal aboard after a one-out double, Springer stroked an RBI single to make it 3-0.
Bichette launched a solo shot in the third to set a franchise record for most homers by a shortstop. He moved past Tony Batista (1999) with his 27th homer of the year.
Berrios, meanwhile, was in stellar form — retiring the first 14 Yankees in order — until New York scored a pair in the fifth inning.
Gleyber Torres reached on a double down the left-field line and scored on a Gio Urshela seeing-eye single. Brett Gardner followed with an RBI double.
Springer was given credit for a two-base hit in the bottom half of the fifth after a communication breakdown in shallow left field.
Urshela tracked the ball from his shortstop position before pulling away at the last second in front of left-fielder Joey Gallo, who could only watch it drop. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., made the Yankees pay by ending a career-long 0-for-20 drought with a double that scored Springer.
DJ LeMahieu led off the sixth with a double, moved to third base on an Anthony Rizzo groundout and scored on a Mike Judge sacrifice fly. With two down and a full count to slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Berrios thrilled the crowd by getting the cleanup hitter on a meek groundout.
Mayza, one of Toronto’s most dependable relievers, put the first two runners in the seventh. Gallo was hit by a pitch and Torres reached on an infield single.
Urshela struck out and pinch-hitter Luke Voit fanned as well, but catcher Reese McGuire couldn’t corral a wild pitch that generated the third strike. The runners advanced and both scored when No. 9 hitter Higashioka — who entered the game with a .186 average — hit a sharp single.
Bichette greeted reliever Clay Holmes (8-4) to the game in the eighth by turning on a 1-0 sinker.
Toronto reliever Adam Cimber (3-4) recorded four key outs ahead of Romano for the win. The Blue Jays outhit the Yankees 10-7.
Notes: The game took two hours 52 minutes to play. … The Blue Jays lead the major leagues with 251 homers this season. … Both Semien and Bichette reached the 100-RBI plateau. … Toronto ace left-hander Robbie Ray (13-6, 2.68 earned-run average) is scheduled to start Thursday against right-hander Corey Kluber (5-3, 3.82). … The Yankees will close out their regular season with a weekend series against the East Division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press