Blue Jays walk off to close in on Wild Card spot

Blue Jays walk off to close in on Wild Card spot

TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Blue Jays rallied late to steal a crucial 4-3 victory against the Yankees on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

Toronto maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over Baltimore for the top American League Wild Card spot, while the Yankees dropped 5 1/2 games behind the Orioles with seven games remaining.

The Blue Jays entered the ninth trailing by one, but quickly found a way to rally against Yankees closer Dellin Betances and reliever Tyler Clippard. The late-inning heroics saddled the Yankees with their eighth consecutive loss at Rogers Centre for the first time in franchise history, and dealt yet another blow to New York's postseason aspirations.

Gibbons on win over Yankees

"He's one of the guys we want up there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Encarnacion. "They're in a jam when they're looking at [Josh Donaldson] and then Eddie. … Eddie beats you in a way he normally doesn't beat you. Just takes the little cheap single the other way. They shifted, it was wide open over there. Everybody is used to seeing Eddie hit a homer or a gapper, but it was a great at-bat on Eddie's part."

The Blue Jays' rally began with a leadoff walk by Melvin Upton Jr. Later in the inning, Toronto scored the tying run on a perfectly executed safety squeeze. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Ezequiel Carrera laid down a slow rolling bunt up the first-base line. By the time Clippard got to the ball it was too late, and Upton scored to even the game at 3.

Carrera's RBI bunt single

New York had rallied in the ninth off Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, with an RBI single by Mason Williams and a sacrifice fly by Ronald Torreyes.

Williams' game-tying RBI single

New York starter Michael Pineda picked up a no-decision after he limited Toronto's offense to one run on three hits and three hits while walking seven over 5 2/3 innings. Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada also came away with a no-decision despite allowing just one run over seven innings, with seven strikeouts.

The Yankees' elimination number now stands at two.

"It stinks," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about the possibility of being eliminated from postseason contention as early as Tuesday. "We've been fighting and fighting. You think about some of these games we've lost, they've been really tough. We've gotten good pitching performances, we've lost in a number of different ways. It's just been tough."

Not closing time: The Blue Jays manufactured a trio of runs against Betances and Clippard. Toronto used the strength of a Donaldson walk and stolen base in the eighth inning to temporarily pull ahead, before walking it off in the ninth with a run each off New York's big duo. Betances has allowed 11 runs in 8 1/3 September innings, while Clippard has allowed six runs in 10 1/3 innings this month.

"It's been tough," Betances said. "Obviously we've been fighting, playing hard, but we've just been coming up short, I guess. There are a lot of close games, and it [stinks]. That's what you play for -- to be in this position -- and we haven't played our best the last week or so."

Pushing ahead: After scoring just a single run in their past 35 innings, the Yankees plated a pair against Osuna in the ninth. Osuna allowed back-to-back singles to Mark Teixeira and Billy Butler to lead off the inning before Williams handed the Toronto righty his first blown save since Aug. 12 with an RBI single to tie the game. Torreyes gave New York its first and only lead of the game with a sacrifice fly.

Streak snapper: Didi Gregorius made sure the Yankees avoided becoming the first AL team since the 1964 Washington Senators to be shut out in four straight games when he launched a game-tying solo home run to lead off the seventh inning. Gregorius' 19th home run of the season ended a 33-inning scoreless drought for New York and was the team's first run since Donovan Solano launched a two-run shot in the ninth inning against the Rays on Wednesday.

Gregorius' solo homer

"You get the lead, you come back late, and then you lose, it's tough," Girardi said. "It's really tough."

Bautista Bomb: Jose Bautista's recent power surge continued in the fourth inning with a solo shot to left field off Pineda. According to Statcast™, Bautista's 21st of the year was projected to travel 398 feet and left his bat at 104 mph. It was Bautista's third home run in his last four games, and he also has a pair of doubles over that span. The homer gave Toronto an early 1-0 lead, and 15 of Bautista's 21 homers this year have put his team in front. The slugger also has now reached base in a season-high 32 consecutive games.

"Jose is that kind of player, he is always doing that," Gibbons said. "I don't care if it's this year, last year. He's a very motivated guy. One of the most disciplined guys you're ever going to meet, and he believes in himself, he's one of the most confident guys you'll ever meet. Ever since he came back from his injury, he got some at-bats under his belt and he's just doing what he always does."

Bautista homers, Pillar assists

Girardi stuck with Williams and Torreyes in the top of the ninth, in part because Aaron Hicks was unavailable. Girardi said after the game that Hicks aggravated his groin on Saturday. The 26-year-old came off the disabled list on Sept. 20 after nursing a sore right hamstring. Hicks is day to day.

"It was a great game today. Well-played baseball. We bunted a few times, which is huge, and I like seeing these things. We don't always need a homer to win these games. So, it was a fun game to watch." -- Estrada

Estrada fans Torreyes

Gregorius' home run snapped Toronto's streak of 40 consecutive scoreless innings at home vs. the New York. That was the longest stretch in franchise history against any one team at home.

Blue Jays starters have not allowed more than two earned runs in 10 consecutive starts, which is their longest streak since April 7-19, 1984.

The Yankees finish off the road portion of their season on Monday evening at Rogers Centre with first pitch set for 7:07 p.m. ET. Manager Joe Girardi announced after Sunday's game that the team will probably turn to Luis Severino (3-8, 5.70 ERA) to start in place of the injured Masahiro Tanaka (right flexor mass strain).

Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.28 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their four-game series vs. the Yankees on Monday night at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Happ will be looking to set a Toronto franchise record for the most wins by a left-handed pitcher. The veteran starter is tied with David Wells' effort during the 2000 season.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for based in Toronto and covered the Yankees on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.