Bo Bichette had an evening to himself.
With two hits in his back pocket already, the Blue Jays shortstop looked determined to continue. After Danny Jansen rushed for a two-out double and Jake Lamb was hit by a pitch, Bichette got ready in the penalty area.
It only took one delivery – a slider low and away – from Yankees’ reliever Sal Romano to break the deadlock, when Bichette hit a soft liner in midfield to give Toronto a lead.
Bichette’s main goal of Thursday’s 6-4 win came in the seventh, but he started the game with one of his most standout displays of the season.
The 23-year-old, who occupies the leadoff spot for the ninth time this year, worked an at bat of nine pitches off New York starter Néstor Cortes Jr. before he broke through.
With one violent hack, the deed was done, and the undoubted home run sailed over the left field wall as Bichette waved his bat in admiration. The solo shot was Toronto’s eighth leadoff home run of the season and only Bichette’s second longball since August 6.
“Today was a big game,” said Bichette, who went 3-for-5 with two RBI’s. “Obviously we won the last three, but today was huge to finish the series.
“We still have some things to make up for. So just have that [home run] to lead the game and set the tone, I just felt good to do something for the team, I really do.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. edged his 42nd home run of the season—and 100th RBI, making him the youngest in franchise history to hit the one-season milestone—to give the Blue Jays bullpen some breathing room.
With the team not pushing, Bichette said things will come together on their own.
“When everyone in the lineup struggled a bit, like they did before, a lot of guys felt like they needed to do something more, like hit a two-run homer with no one on base,” he said. “Those kind of things.”
“It helps when all the guys do well, but we just come out on the field every day to prepare for the win.”
Joakim Soria swept in the seventh and Tim Mayza hit two hits to throw an inning-ending double play in the eighth. A big punch ensued, as the Toronto’s wily left-hander unleashed a rare wave of emotion.
“My best compliment to Tim Mayza was that I never panicked on the bench,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “Okay, that’s fine, two guys are getting singles. He’s not going to get everyone out… my confidence was there, the whole team is confident and he got the job done.”
Nate Pearson gave up two solo homeruns in the ninth, but closed the door. Still, the close call at the end showed the value of Jose Berríos’ quality start.
After knocking out Joey Gallo on four pitches in the fourth, it became clear that Berríos was locked up. He lasered in with attacks from the first pitch and, even as the Yankees’ batters reached base, Berríos squeezed in with some handy defense of his own.
The 27-year-old was excellent 99% of the night, but baseball is a cruel game and things can change in the blink of an eye. A check swing groundball single at third base by Aaron Judge gave the Yankees a runner in the sixth, and a batter later Anthony Rizzo destroyed a foul fastball to tie the game.
Berríos threw 6 2/3 innings, gave up two earned runs, struckout eight and walked, but wanted the latter out in the seventh. When Montoyo walked out to take him out of the game, the righthander smiled and had a chat with his manager.
“He told me ‘You already have 110 places.’ So I said, ‘I know, I know’,” Berríos said. “He is the manager. I will always respect his decision and we have to believe in each other.”
“I feel like I’m a competitive man. Of course I want to keep pitching, but at the same time I’m on the same page with Charlie.”
All in all, Toronto’s effort extended its winning streak to eight games and represented the Blue Jays’ first four-game sweep in New York since a roster headlined by Roy Halladay and Carlos Delgado in 2003.
The Blue Jays’ epic run started in Oakland and has been handed over to The Bronx as the club is only half a game away from second place by wildcard. Then a run in Baltimore gives Toronto the chance to fly even higher.
“I’ve been in this division for a while, I know it’s very difficult,” said Montoyo. “That’s why I’m so proud of my team.
“Not only that, before that we had to play against Oakland, another great team, and we did the same thing. I’m so proud of my team it’s not even funny. It’s actually great.”
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