NEW YORK -- The Yankees keep saying that they have nothing to lose as they cross the remaining dates off their schedule. The more they repeat that simple mantra, the less it seems that they actually do lose.
This time, it was Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino and Tyler Clippard combining to post the Yankees' ninth shutout of the season, completing a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. New York has won 10 of 14, vaulting back into the thick of the postseason chase as the club is just 2 1/2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot.
"We're just having a good time," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "It's been really fun watching these young guys contribute, whether it's offensively or the pitching staff. We have young guys it seems like every single day, a guy that hasn't been with us most of the year coming up and doing a great job for us."
Mitchell had already won a spot on the roster when he limped to the clubhouse following his final appearance of the spring, heading for surgery to address a fractured sesamoid bone in his left foot. He never guessed that his first appearance of the year would come in such a big spot.
"After the whole season, what I went through, tonight's very rewarding," said Mitchell, who picked up his first Major League victory in just his fourth career start. "I'm very happy with it."
The right-hander gave the Yankees exactly what they needed, stifling Toronto's lineup on four hits over five innings, walking two and striking out two on 80 pitches. Catcher Austin Romine raved about Mitchell's fastball, cutter and curveball, as well as his confidence.
"You have three pitches like that and then a changeup that moves just as much, they're going to have fits trying to get some hits over there," Romine said. "It's going to look bad. His curveball was really working; we pitched in to make them uncomfortable. There weren't too many comfortable at-bats that whole night."
Mitchell induced a pair of key double plays in the first and third innings, getting Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis to bounce to third baseman Chase Headley. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Mitchell's overall effort was "outstanding" and that he couldn't have asked for anything more.
"Spending all those days down in Florida rehabbing, throwing with his leg up on a chair for weeks upon weeks to try to keep his arm in shape, looking forward to this day," Girardi said. "And for him to come out and do it this time of year, in a game that's this important, it really had to mean a lot to him."
As many barrels as Mitchell missed, Severino may have upstaged him, firing three dominant innings before Clippard locked down the final three outs with closer Dellin Betances unavailable. Severino struggled in nine starts but has been a revelation out of the bullpen, where he has showcased a fastball-slider combo to terrific results.
He has yet to permit an earned run in six appearances spanning 14 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and six walks while striking out 16, and the Yankees sense a difference in his attitude as a reliever.
"It's just electric," Romine said. "There's no fear behind any pitch he throws, it doesn't matter who's hitting. He blew a couple of really good hitters away with heaters. It was something special."
Severino has maintained that his preference is to return to the rotation, but with the Yankees in win-now mode, he's on board for whatever is needed.
"I want to be a starter, but right now I'm helping the team as a reliever," Severino said. "That's my job right now. I had a tough year, but right now I'm forgetting about that, throwing pitch by pitch and helping the team win."
There was a scare in the eighth inning, as Encarnacion lifted a deep fly ball to right field with Josh Donaldson aboard. Severino gulped as Aaron Judge tracked the ball to the wall, then exhaled when the outfielder snared it on the warning track.
"I feel really good. I helped the team," Severino said. "That's the reason why we're here."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.