Bullpen stingy as Blue Jays rally to top Yanks

Bullpen stingy as Blue Jays rally to top Yanks

Bullpen stingy as Blue Jays rally to top Yanks
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are doing their best to play spoiler and affect the American League playoff picture. After splitting its last series, a four-game set with the Orioles, Toronto has continued to be a pest against the AL East-leading Yankees, who are looking to clinch a postseason berth in Toronto this weekend.

The Blue Jays bounced back from a sloppy performance on Friday night and, in the face of adversity, guaranteed that the Yankees -- who entered Saturday's game with their magic number to reach the playoffs at two -- will have to wait at least another day before securing a spot.

Shawn Hill worked three hitless innings of emergency relief to earn the victory after starter Ricky Romero was forced to exit early with a left knee injury, and Adeiny Hechavarria broke open a tied game in the sixth inning to help the Blue Jays drop the Yankees, 3-2, at Rogers Centre.

"At this point, we are personally trying to play spoilers," said Hill.

Romero was forced to leave the game after the third inning and went for further medical evaluations following the game.

"You don't want to risk anything," Hill said. "If he possibly has done anything, you don't want to further the injury. So it's better safe than sorry."

Romero put the Blue Jays in an early hole, allowing a pair of hits, a walk, a sacrifice fly, a single and another sac fly to begin the game before striking out Andruw Jones to end the inning. The lefty may have been lucky to escape the frame trailing just 2-0, but he was picked up in the bottom half of the inning.

Rajai Davis sent a 3-2 offering from Yankees starter Andy Pettitte over the fence in left field for his eighth homer of the season to cut the deficit in half.

Romero looked shaky throughout his start and worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the third inning, marking the premature end of his final start of the season. He injured himself during an at-bat with Jones in the third and didn't return for the fourth. Romero surrendered two runs on six hits, walked two and struck out three.

From there, it was Hill's time to shine. The Canada native, who helped Team Canada clinch a berth in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, joined the Blue Jays earlier in the week and made his first Major League appearance since 2010.

The 31-year-old Hill didn't disappoint, keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard over three innings of no-hit ball. Manager John Farrell said Hill succeeded by keeping the ball on the ground and staying under control during what was the first relief appearance of his professional career. Hill, who appeared in four games with the Blue Jays in 2010, said it felt natural taking the mound at Rogers Centre.

"It was fun," said Hill, who earned his first victory since Sept. 23, 2010. "I just didn't quite know what to expect out of myself, if I was going to be too amped up, if I was going to be able to get myself ready, that kind of thing.

"[But] I was fairly calm."

Hill's offense ensured he left the ballpark with a win.

Davis was back at it in the fifth and tied the score at 2 with an infield single off Pettitte that scored Jeff Mathis and marked Davis' seventh consecutive at-bat with a hit, one short of the franchise record. Davis struck out in his next at-bat, but he has gone 7-for-8 to start the series.

"That's my goal every year," Davis said of finishing the year strong. "I was just going out there and trying to get a good pitch to it. I was fortunate to hit some good balls, and they didn't catch it."

The following inning, Hechavarria gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game.

With the game tied at 2 in the sixth, Hechavarria stepped to the plate with two outs and two runners on to face reliever Joba Chamberlain. Hechavarria drove a 1-1 fastball the other way and off the wall in right to cash Yunel Escobar, putting the Blue Jays ahead, 3-2. The run was charged to Pettitte, who lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on five hits to fall to 5-4.

"A big hit by Hechavarria," Farrell said. "We have seen him hit very good pitching. He stays on some balls. ... The RBI base hit the other way for the go-ahead run was key in that moment."

The hit extended Hechavarria's hitting streak to a career-high 10 games.

With Toronto holding a 3-2 lead entering the seventh, a collection of four relievers after Hill helped secure the win. Brad Lincoln and Aaron Loup worked the seventh, Steve Delabar tossed the eighth and Casey Janssen closed things out in the ninth for his 21st save of the season.

"Tomorrow is going to be a must-win," said Yankees first baseman Nick Swisher, who went 2-for-3. "We put ourselves in this situation and destiny in our own hands. We've got to go out and take it. No one is going to give us nothing.

"These guys are fighting, just like we are. There's a lot of guys over there fighting for spots next year, things like that, and we're fighting to go into the postseason."

A win over the Yankees on Sunday would give the Blue Jays their first series victory since they swept Boston from Sept. 7-9.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.