By Gregor Chisholm and Grace Raynor
MLB.com |@gregorMLB |
NEW YORK -- Justin Smoak hit a grand slam, Troy Tulowitzki added a solo shot and David Price tossed seven strong innings, as the Blue Jays pulled within 2 1/2 games of New York for first place in the American League East with a 6-0 victory over the Yankees on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Toronto picked up its seventh consecutive victory and will have a chance to go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon. New York has dropped six of its last 10, which has caused a seven-game lead in the division to quickly dissipate.
Price entered this start having allowed eight runs in each of his last two starts vs. the Yankees. But he was nearly flawless in this game. Toronto's ace scattered three hits and three walks, while striking out seven en route to his second consecutive victory in a Blue Jays uniform. New York right-hander Ivan Nova took the loss after allowing four runs over 5 1/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Smoak-a-motive: Smoak could not have picked a better time to come through with the first grand slam of his career. Toronto and New York had been locked in a scoreless game until Smoak stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth. He unloaded his 10th home run of the year. According to Statcast™, the ball was projected to travel 387 feet and left Smoak's bat at 98 mph.
"We've got a lot of good hitters, early on [Nova's] curveball was pretty sharp, the one I got just happened to be up," Smoak said. "It's a matter of late in the game, he was probably up around 100 pitches or so, you can't miss those." More >
One batter too many: Before Smoak blasted his grand slam over the right-center-field fence, Nova had allowed three hits and no runs, while recording six strikeouts. But as the sixth opened, Nova began to unravel. He loaded the bases by walking Josh Donaldson, giving up a single to Jose Bautista and then walking Edwin Encarnacion. Adam Warren had been warming in the Yanks' bullpen, but manager Joe Girardi elected to leave Nova in against Smoak, whose grand slam put the Yankees in a hole they couldn't crawl out of. More >
Tulo time: Tulowitzki added to the Blue Jays' lead in the seventh with a solo shot to left field. It was Tulowitzki's 15th of the year and his third since joining Toronto following the Trade Deadline deal with Colorado. According to Statcast™, Tulowitzki's solo shot was projected to travel 374 feet and it left his bat at 100 mph.
No offense: After scoring a combined 94 runs in the previous 13 games leading up to Saturday's contest, the Yankees couldn't muster any offense against Price and the Blue Jays' bullpen. They hadn't been shut out since June 25 in Houston.
"Just being David Price," Girardi said, about what Price did well. "Locating, mixing his pitches. Using his changeup, his backdoor cutter to righties. Locating away from guys and inside, so he was just being who he is."
"There's a long way to go. You can make a lot of these two games -- and obviously I said this was an important series coming in. But really, what's going to determine the division is you've got two months to go and how you play in the next two months, not two games. Obviously, we lose a tough one last night -- pretty good pitchers' duel for a long time today, we lose today. This is the one thing I know about this group is they've been very resilient and they've bounced back very well and we'll be back tomorrow." -- Girardi, on the AL East raceMore >
"Everybody was excited to have a guy who can do what he does, giving you seven, eight, nine innings of no-run baseball the majority of the time. If we can get a few runs up on the board ... after that homer, 4-0 lead with Price on the mound, you knew it was pretty much game over." -- Smoak, talking about PriceMore >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smoak's shot in the sixth inning was the first grand slam the Blue Jays have ever hit in New York. Toronto entered play on Saturday with 131 grand slams in franchise history. But until Smoak's blast, none of them had occurred at new or old Yankee Stadium, or even at Shea Stadium or Citi Field in Interleague Play against the Mets.
"Unbelievable," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "As many games have been played here, the slugging teams that the Blue Jays have had. It's pretty remarkable, really."
Gibbons was ejected in the third inning by home-plate umpire Greg Gibson for apparently arguing balls and strikes. It was his fifth ejection of the season. More >
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 ET. Estrada has surrendered three runs or fewer in eight of his last nine starts and has a 2.50 ERA over that same span.
Yankees: The Yanks will send Masahiro Tanaka (8-4, 3.84 ERA) to the mound to close the series on Sunday. Tanaka has won each of his previous four starts at home, and is 3-1 in his career against the Blue Jays. In his last outing, Tanaka picked up the win over the Red Sox, throwing six innings of five-hit ball. He gave up three earned runs and struck out three.