Yankees look to bounce back vs. Blue Jays

NEW YORK — During the fifth inning Saturday, Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging on a high strike that sent his momentum toward the ground. He then slammed his right fist on the dirt to express his disgust at how the at-bat ended.

It was that kind of day for the New York Yankees, who hope to rebound from a difficult showing at the plate Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Stanton hit his 34th homer in his next at-bat but the Yankees fell behind by seven runs before their furious comeback fell short and they were handed an 8-7 loss.

Didi Gregorius homered twice and Miguel Andujar hit his second career grand slam to cap a six-run seventh, but the Yankees could not overcome striking out 16 times, stranding 10 going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“We have a group in there capable of turning this thing in a heartbeat,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve got to keep battling through this right now. I feel like we are showing some signs of pulling ourselves out of it a little bit, but we’ve got to do better.”

As a result, their uneven play of late continued. The Yankees (91-57) are 8-10 since Aug. 26 and what was once a 4 1/2 game lead over Oakland for home field in the wild card game is down to 1 1/2.

“Does it concern us? Yeah, because we’re supposed to win,” Gregorius said. “You always want to play to win. That’s what’s going on. That’s what you want to do, for us. We’re not playing that way right now, but I think we’ll pick it up soon.”

The Blue Jays will try to get their first series of the season from the Yankees. They are 5-13 against the New York but hit three homers and held on to snap a four-game losing streak.

Randall Grichuk homered twice while Kevin Pilar added one.

Sunday could be manager John Gibbons last game managing the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium, across the street from where his first managerial stint with the team began in August 2004.

“I’m a fan of the history of baseball,” Gibbons said Friday. “This is a new stadium but it’s still Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park … You look back to the first time you were there and you’re kind of in awe of those places. You never know either if you’re ever going to come back so you try to enjoy it.”

New York right-hander Lance Lynn looks to reach double figures in wins for the sixth straight season when he makes his eighth start for the Yankees. After going 7-8 for Minnesota, he is 2-2 with a 4.79 ERA in eight appearances for the Yankees.

Lynn rebounded from an ugly outing Sept. 2 against Detroit on Sept. 8 when he allowed two runs on three hits in six innings of a 4-2 win at Seattle.

Lynn is 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against the Blue Jays. He took a no-decision against them Aug. 17 in a 7-5 New York win when he allowed four of his five runs in the first inning and lasted four frames.

Rookie Thomas Pannone makes his fourth career start for the Blue Jays and 10th appearance. As a starting pitcher, he is 2-1 with a 4.86 ERA.

Pannone last pitched a week ago in a 6-2 victory over Cleveland when he allowed two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.