By Gregor Chisholm and Alykhan Ravjiani
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista has rediscovered his power stroke, and the Blue Jays will hope to ride it all the way into the postseason.
Bautista came through in a big moment yet again on Saturday with a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give Toronto a 3-0 victory over the Yankees. It was Bautista's second home run in his last three games, after he also hit a tying ninth-inning home run vs. Seattle on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays have a 1 1/2-game edge in the American League Wild Card race after the Orioles beat the D-backs in Baltimore. Baltimore leads Detroit by one-half game, while the Yankees are now 4 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the second AL Wild Card, with Seattle and Houston also between New York and the postseason.
"We have the luxury of having a deep lineup," said Bautista, whose at-bat immediately followed a walk to Edwin Encarnacion. "Even the guys behind me, if they pitch around me, those guys are very capable. Not everybody has a 2-3-4-5-6 like we do. That's how our team is made up, it's our strength, and we have to roll with it."
"I just didn't execute a pitch," said Tyler Clippard, who allowed the go-ahead blast to Bautista. "It was a fastball right down the middle. If I get it where I want to, I don't think [Bautista] does what he did there. I've been feeling good, I just kind of left that one over, and it cost us."
The Blue Jays and Yankees were locked into a scoreless duel for most of the afternoon. Toronto's Marcus Stroman and New York's CC Sabathia did not allow a run over seven innings. Stroman allowed just one hit and three walks while Sabathia surrendered four hits and three walks, but both left with a no-decision.
"That's as good as I've ever seen him," Gibbons said. "Then, of course, with two outs, the big hit by [Josh] Donaldson], Eddie getting on and Jose doing his thing. Jose has been known to do some dramatic things. It was a [heck] of a game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Late magic: The Blue Jays were quiet until they showed up when it mattered the most, with a two-out rally in the eighth. With the Yankees playing no-doubles defense, Donaldson started the rally with a long single to left, while Encarnacion walked before Bautista's dramatic home run gave Toronto all the offense it would need. According to Statcast™, Bautista's 20th home run of the season traveled a projected 402 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph.
"It was just a fastball in the strike zone," Bautista said. "I'm sure he was trying to locate it better, it was over the heart of the plate, and it's a 2-0 pitch. I'm definitely looking for a heater in that situation, and I just happened to make good contact, good enough to get it to go out."
Missed opportunity: Struggling to get anything going the last three games, the Yankees squandered their best opportunity in the eighth inning. With third baseman Ronald Torreyes on third after after a two-out triple, manager Joe Girardi sent out pinch-hitter Billy Butler against Jason Grilli. Butler, who came into the game having reached base in all seven games since joining New York, struck out on a 94-mph fastball, extending New York's scoreless streak to 26 innings.
"I've been doing this long enough to know that you just go up there and put a good at-bat together," Butler said. "He threw some good pitches. I fouled off some tough pitches, got a pitch I should have hit, and then fouled it off. Grilli made a pitch to get out of the inning. He's been doing well. I did everything right there, but just didn't get a hit."
Stroman strands 'em: Stroman allowed just one baserunner to reach scoring position, and it came during the fourth inning. Brett Gardner led off with a seven-pitch walk and advanced to second base on a passed ball by Dioner Navarro. With nobody out, that gave the Yankees three chances to bring the runner home, but it was instead Stroman who got the job done. Jacoby Ellsbury and Gary Sanchez picked up back-to-back strikeouts, while Didi Gregorius hit a weak fly ball to center as the threat came to an end.
"I felt great out there, I felt strong," said Stroman, who lowered his ERA to 4.34. "I felt like I was hitting pretty much all of my spots. I don't know if it was my best, but I would put it up there from the best performances that I've had, as far as stuff-wise, as far as giving us a chance to win late in the game."
Seeing double: Sabathia remained in cruise control for a majority of the afternoon, but did wiggle out of some early trouble in the first and second innings. After allowing a one-out single in the first to Donaldson, Sabathia induced a double play off the bat of Encarnacion. An inning later, Sabathia allowed a leadoff double to Bautista and a walk to Russell Martin before forcing a double-play ball from Troy Tulowitzki
"I mean, these guys made some great plays behind me," Sabathia said. "[Torreyes] on the dribbler down the third-base line gets the double play turned, and they helped me out a lot today, because I had a couple of walks and let some baserunners on."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bautista extended his on-base streak to 31 consecutive games with his leadoff double in the second. He has walked 21 times over that span and has reached base at least twice in 11 of his last 18 games.
The Yankees were shut out for the third consecutive game for the first time since July 27-28, 1975. It also marked the 13th time New York has been shut out this season, with six of those coming in September.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Right-hander Michael Pineda (6-11, 4.89 ERA) will look for his first win of the month when he takes the mound against the Blue Jays on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET. Pineda allowed two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings his last time out against the Rays. The 27-year-old has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his four September starts but he has been unable to complete five innings in three of those outings.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.62) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their four-game series against the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at 1:07 p.m. ET. Estrada carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his last start vs. the Mariners. He didn't allow a run, surrendered just one hit and walked three over seven dominating frames.