Stroman strong as Martin's home run leads Jays past Yankees 4-0
Toronto — After an emotional loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, what's it going to take for the New York Yankees to have a chance of winning the AL East?
"We're going to have to be almost perfect," manager Joe Girardi said.
Russell Martin hit a three-run homer, Marcus Stroman pitched seven strong innings to win his third straight start and Toronto beat the Yankees 4-0 on Wednesday night, extending its division lead to 3 1/2 games.
New York has 11 games remaining, while Toronto has 10. Girardi acknowledged that his team's hopes of winning the division are slim.
"It's not mathematically impossible, but it's difficult," Girardi said.
Toronto finished 13-6 against New York, a club record for wins against the Yankees.
"That's the difference in the standings, what they've done to us," Girardi said.
Before the game, a video tribute and moment of silence honored former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, who died of natural causes on Tuesday night at age 90. An image of Berra wearing catcher's gear was in the background of New York's lineup cards.
The Yankees wore Berra's 8 on their left sleeve, and will do so for the remainder of the season. The team intends to honor Berra before Thursday's home game against the Chicago White Sox.
Stroman (3-0) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out five in his third start since returning from a torn knee ligament suffered in spring training. The outing lowered his ERA to 1.89.
"He had command of all his pitches," said Chase Headly, who had one of the five hits off Stroman. "He was throwing everything he had for strikes."
Brett Cecil worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished.
Starting in place of Masahiro Tanaka (right hamstring), New York right-hander Ivan Nova (6-9) took the mound for the first time since allowing six runs in 1 2-3 innings of a Sept. 12 loss to Toronto.
Nova, who had allowed at least three earned runs in each of his previous seven outings, kept the Blue Jays scoreless through five before departing after a two-out walk to Martin in the sixth.
"He did a tremendous job for us," Girardi said. "It's unfortunate we weren't able to score him any runs."
James Pazos came on and gave up a single to Ryan Goins, sending Martin to third. Girardi replaced Pazos with Caleb Cotham, who allowed a first-pitch RBI single to Kevin Pillar.
"That's the biggest hit of my life," Pillar said. "Maybe the best feeling I've ever had on a baseball field."
Pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera walked to load the bases, but Brett Gardner made a running catch on Ben Revere's fly ball to left to end the threat.
New York used a walk and a single to put runners at first and second with two outs in the seventh, but Stroman finished his outing by getting Dustin Ackley to line out to center.
"If he puts it in the gap, we've got two runs," Girardi said. "He just hit it right at him."
Josh Donaldson doubled off Bailey to begin the seventh and went to third on Jose Bautista's groundout. Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked and Justin Smoak struck out before Martin drilled a 2-2 pitch into the left field bullpen, delighting the sellout crowd of 48,056.
"Definitely a good feeling for me," Martin said. "I know the boys enjoyed it too. A good win."
It wasn't the first time Russell burned Bailey.
"I faced him in New York and same thing, same execution issue," Bailey said. "I tried to go fastball in and he did the same thing. Next time I just have to get it in there better."
Yankees starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 consecutive games.
Toronto has been the opponent in three of New York's six shutout defeats this season.
Yankees: Girardi said doctors would examine Tanaka again Thursday. "We'll try to get him back on the mound as soon as we can," Girardi said. "He feels pretty good. We're encouraged with the way he feels."
Yankees: New York returns home to begin a four-game series against the White Sox on Thursday. RHP Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10 ERA) starts for the Yankees against Chicago LHP Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47). Pineda is unbeaten in his last four starts, his longest such run since the first seven starts of the season.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off Thursday before opening a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Friday. R.A. Dickey (10-11, 4.05 ERA) will start against Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-8, 3.38). Dickey is 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts against the Rays this season.