MLB Baseball

5
Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
NY Yankees0 0 0 1 0 2 2 0 0 591
Toronto1 1 3 4 0 0 0 0 x 9110
9
  W: M. Stroman (13-8)   L: J. García (1-3)
10:07 AM PT11:07 AM MT12:07 PM CT1:07 PM ET13:07 ET17:07 GMT1:07 10:07 AM MST12:07 PM EST12:37 PM VEN21:07 UAE12:07 PM CT, September 24, 2017
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario  Attendance: 47,394

Yankees look to keep foot on pedal versus Blue Jays

TORONTO -- The New York Yankees have clinched an American League wild-card spot.

Do no expect them to be taking it easy when they complete their three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday at the Rogers Centre.

They still have a faint chance of winning the American League East although they trail the first-place Boston Red Sox by four games.

"The first goal is obviously to win the division," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The next goal is to make sure, if you don't win the division, is that you have home-field advantage (for the wild-card game). I think it's important that we keep our foot on the gas. Our fate may not be determined till the last weekend."

The Yankees clinched a wild-card spot with a 5-1 victory Saturday after losing to the Blue Jays 8-1 on Friday. Their magic number to clinch at least homefield in the wild-card game is three as they lead Minnesota by 5 1/2 games.

New York left-hander Jaime Garcia (5-9, 4.19 ERA) opposes Toronto righty Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01) on Sunday. It is the final home game of the season for the Blue Jays.

The Yankees (86-68) were not expected to do as well as they have this season, while the Blue Jays (72-83), who played in the past two American League Championship Series, were not expected to be last in the AL East as they are now.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is impressed with the Yankees.

"They're young and talented," Gibbons said after the game Saturday. "They've got a lot of pop in their lineup. They've got some good pieces to go along with it. Some speed with (Jacoby) Ellsbury and (Brett) Gardner. They've got some good starting pitching and arguably one of the best bullpens, if not the best. They can be as tough as anybody."

The Yankees are on a 16-6 roll that started Aug. 31.

"It's a great accomplishment," Girardi said. "We learned a lot about our young players, our veteran players. To see the kids kind of grow up in front of you, it's special.

"We're still playing for the division. Obviously, I have to be smart. I can't run guys out there 10 days in a row. That doesn't make sense because I think it becomes counterproductive.

"We're going to do what we can to win these games and see where we're at. If we do get eliminated from the division then you start to think a little differently."

The Yankees are 18 games above. 500, which matches a season high.

"We're a lot better than a lot of people thought we were," Yankees infielder Chase Headley said. "This is my second postseason in 11 years so I'm enjoying it. Obviously, we have more work to be done but any time you have a chance to play in the postseason, you can't take it for granted. A lot of guys play a long time and don't have this chance."

The Blue Jays are finishing up a disappointing season and right fielder Jose Bautista could be playing his final home game with the team. It is unlikely that the club will pick up the $17-million option for 2018.

"A lot of us, as usual, played through a lot of things, physically and mentally," Bautista said. "We tried our best. We just couldn't get consistent enough, we didn't get the results we wanted. I'm sure if you go down this room, individually and collectively, everybody's going to have sort of the same feeling about the season even though there were more than a few guys here who have had terrific seasons. And that shouldn't be put on the back burner. ...

"A month ago, a month and a half ago, we were still in the ball game. Even two weeks ago we were still with high hopes and high possibilities. It just didn't happen for us."

One of the Blue Jays to have a good season is Stroman, who reached a career best Tuesday with his 12th win of the season.

He defeated the Kansas City Royals for his first win since Aug. 16, a span of five winless starts (0-2) when he allowed one run, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. In his past six starts, he is 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA. He is 0-1, 5.79, in three starts against the Yankees this season and is 5-3, 2.97 in 11 career starts against them.

Garcia will make his eighth start as a Yankee Sunday.

The Yankees are his third team this season. He is 5-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 26 starts combined with the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and the Yankees.

The 31-year-old allowed one unearned run in a no-decision Monday against the Twins. He allowed four hits, no walks and struck out nine. He was acquired from the Twins in a trade July 29 after he made one start for them. The Twins acquired him in a trade with the Braves on July 24. He is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA with the Yankees.

Garcia is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four career starts against the Blue Jays. He allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings in his only start against Toronto this season, receiving a no-decision May 16 when he was with Atlanta.

Updated September 24, 2017

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