"Just outstanding pitching on his part," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's unfortunate we didn't score and get him a win."
Whitley didn't walk a batter, while registering six strikeouts against six hits before he turned the game over to Chris Martin in the eighth. It marked the first time he's gone seven frames without allowing a run, and only the third time he's pitched seven or more innings.
Whitley showed his best stuff when he maneuvered out of a sixth-inning jam against the heart of the Blue Jays' order. With the game still scoreless, the 25-year-old allowed a leadoff single and a double, giving Toronto a pair of runners and a golden offensive opportunity. But he settled in and retired Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Kevin Pillar in order to escape the inning unscathed.
"I just tried not to let the moment get too big," said Whitley, who has allowed one earned run over 12 innings this season. "You got to take a step back, breathe and just go for it."
Whitley had previously come through in the clutch with one away in the third, after he made a throwing error that allowed Ezequiel Carrera to reach third base on a bunt. He recovered by fanning Devon Travis before getting Josh Donaldson to ground out to end the inning.
Girardi said Whitley's ability to work out of tight spots is a sign of maturity from the right-hander, who made 12 starts last season in his first taste of the Majors.
"He's matured, his stuff has gotten better and his location has continued to improve as a starter," Girardi said.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.