Estrada, bullpen cap off strong set against Yanks

Estrada, bullpen cap off strong set against Yanks

NEW YORK -- Most of the attention the Blue Jays received this year has been centred around their offense. But it was their pitching staff that took center stage during a three-game sweep of the Yankees.

Toronto's staff limited to New York to one run on 14 hits during the entire three-game set. The 2-0 victory on Sunday gave the Blue Jays their first back-to-back shutouts against New York in the same series in franchise history.

It was a remarkable run and one the Blue Jays can only hope continues down the stretch. Almost every member of the staff got the job done, with Sunday's shutout a combined effort by Marco Estrada, LaTroy Hawkins, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna.

"Incredible what adding a few pieces to this team has done," said Estrada, whose team has pulled within 1 1/2 games of New York for top spot in the American League East. "Mentally and, obviously, physically on the field. Just picking up a few guys, we felt pretty confident.

"We did a tremendous job. We held them to a run or whatever it was and our offense did the rest. I know we didn't score too much in two games, but we did just enough to win -- and we knew it was going to be a battle."

Osuna earns the save

Blue Jays starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 consecutive games. That's the longest Toronto streak since the starters went 15 games straight from Sept. 1-17, 2006. It's also the first time the Blue Jays recorded back-to-back shutouts since May 3-4, 2012.

In the series finale, it was Estrada's turn to go under the spotlight. He was nearly flawless all afternoon -- allowing just three hits and three walks, while striking out six over 6 1/3 innings. It continued a strong run that has seen the versatile hurler surrender two runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts.

The dominating performance didn't stop there. Hawkins entered in the seventh with one out and a pair of runners on base. The veteran reliever got the second out of the inning on a lineout by Didi Gregorius and then struck out Stephen Drew to end the threat. That was as close as the Yankees would get to breaking through.

Since the All-Star break, the Blue Jays' bullpen has a 1.70 ERA -- which leads the AL. The starters also lead the league with a 2.68 ERA since the break. It has been an all-around effort. All of a sudden, the league's best offense has the type of staff it needs for support.

"It was really just two good teams playing good baseball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Pitching won out, I think everyone was expecting a slugfest all three games, based on the offenses. But it didn't turn out that way."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.