(Photo credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports)
The Toronto Blue Jays will try to move closer to clinching a playoff spot when they play the visiting New York Yankees on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series.
The Blue Jays (87-69) are coming off a 4-2 road trip that included two wins in three games against the Yankees, which helped them enter the final week of the regular season holding the second American League wild card.
The Yankees (79-77) were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday. They bounced back for a 6-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday in the rubber match of a three-game set that ended New York's home schedule.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game on Monday that he has not been told if he will be back next season. His contract runs through 2024.
"I don't worry about it," Boone said. "It's out of my hands. I'm completely comfortable with who I am and the things I can control. In my mind, I'm doing everything to head into the offseason prepared to put us in a better position to try and compete for a championship. That's what the goal is, and until they take that away, that's my focus.
"We have an expectation around here to be playing next week at this time, and unfortunately, that's not the case."
Toronto had Monday off, but the team was quite pleased with itself after a 9-5 win on Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"This was an awesome road trip," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "Coming off a sweep at home, then two division teams who are really tough. These guys played their (butts) off. Yeah, (Saturday) was a tough one, but this was about as good an outcome other than 6-0. I love the way they're going about it, everything from offense to defense to pitching."
The win on Sunday featured a superb performance from right fielder George Springer, who hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer and also made a pair of great defensive plays. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added two home runs.
"We're doing what we need to do," Springer said. "We're slowing the game down. You're seeing guys walk, have a good quality at-bat when it has to happen. You're seeing guys get moved over. You're seeing what it takes to win in September. It's not always about stats."
On Tuesday, the Blue Jays are scheduled to start right-hander Kevin Gausman (12-9, 3.29 ERA). He has faced the Yankees three times this season, going 2-0 and allowing three runs (two earned) over 20 innings. In 30 career appearances (24 starts) against New York, Gausman is 10-7 with a 3.15 ERA.
In his most recent outing, Gausman fired six shutout innings against the Yankees on Wednesday, striking out 10 while yielding three hits and three walks.
The Yankees are expected to start right-hander Michael King (4-7, 2.66 ERA). He allowed one run on five hits and struck out 13 in seven innings on Wednesday in a 6-1 loss to Gausman and the Blue Jays. In 17 career appearances (three starts) against Toronto, King is 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA.
New York recalled Matt Bowman from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday and put fellow right-hander Tommy Kahnle (right shoulder inflammation) on the 15-day injured list.
--Field Level Media