(The Sports Xchange) - Most of the talk has been about the new additions to the Toronto Blue Jays. On Sunday, it was a trio of players who have been here all season guiding the Blue Jays to their latest win.
Right-hander Marco Estrada allowed three singles in 6 1/3 innings while third baseman Josh Donaldson and right fielder Jose Bautista hit long solo home runs as Toronto completed its first sweep at Yankee Stadium in over 12 years with a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees.
“Oh yeah, we got some good players out there,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “No doubt, there’s a couple of big additions but there’s some pretty good ones too.”
Playing their biggest series in New York after the All-Star break since August 1993, the Blue Jays (61-52) ran their winning streak to eight games, won for the 11th time in 12 games and inched to within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees (61-49) with 10 games remaining in the season series.
”Right now you’re just trying to win series,“ Donaldson said. ”But when you come in and win the first two, your goal is the win the next game.
“This was definitely an important series for us because it was a game that can immediately get you back in the standings without having to rely on other teams and I think like we did a good job executing all series.”
Estrada (10-6) helped the Blue Jays get their first series sweep in New York since May 22-25, 2003, when Roy Halladay, Kelvim Escobar, Cory Lidle and Doug Davis were winning pitchers.
He also helped Toronto complete consecutive shutouts of the Yankees for the first time in team history.
While Estrada only allowed singles to right fielder Carlos Beltran in the second, shortstop Didi Gregorius in the third and third baseman Chase Headley in the seventh, Toronto’s powerful offense struck with two long swings off right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (8-5).
”We held them to whatever it was, a run or whatever and our offense did the rest,“ Estrada said. ”I know we didn’t score too much in two games. We did just enough to win.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, two really good lineups and good pitching staffs and we just came out on top.”
Donaldson homered on right-hander Tanaka’s seventh pitch of the game, sending a first-pitch fastball into the Yankee bullpen beyond the right-center field wall. Donaldson’s 31st home was also his fourth home run in an opening inning in the last week and 19th that gave the Blue Jays a lead.
Two days after hitting the tiebreaking in the 10th off rookie Branden Pinder, Bautista hit his 26th home run with one out in the fourth. He waited slightly longer than Donaldson in his at-bat, driving a 1-0 fastball to left field off an advertisement in front of the second deck.
After landing in the seats, a fan threw the ball back and it hit left fielder Brett Gardner in the head.
Estrada turned in his third scoreless start of the year and exited with two on in the seventh. LaTroy Hawkins recorded the final two outs of the seventh, Aaron Sanchez stranded a runner in the eighth and Roberto Osuna tossed a hitless ninth for his 10th save in 11 opportunities.
“(The) whole series, starters and relievers were outstanding,” Bautista said. “So it’s exciting to see.”
Tanaka allowed two runs and three hits in six innings as New York lost for the fourth time in five games and have lost 5 1/2 games off their lead since July 27.
It is the first time the Yankees have held less than a two-game lead since July 7.
“This isn’t going to be comfortable the rest of the way,” Teixeira said. “We have to fight for every win and that’s what we expect every single game going forward.”
The Yankees have four runs since Tuesday’s 13-3 win over the Boston Red Sox and went scoreless over the final 26 innings after first baseman Mark Teixeira homered off R.A. Dickey in the second inning on Friday.
It also marked the first time since May 12-13, 1999, against the Los Angeles Angels that New York were blanked in consecutive games and the first time since April 28-29, 1992, against Texas the Yankees were held to three hits or less in consecutive games.
It also is New York’s longest scoreless streak since going 32 innings without a run in 1991, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We just haven’t been hitting,” New York catcher Brian McCann said. “It happens.”
Compiled by Peter Rutherford