Yankees look to end skid in series finale with Jays

TORONTO — The New York Yankees ended one streak, now they must find a way to end another streak on Monday in the finale of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

They are on an eight-game losing streak at Rogers Centre.

New York did score, at least, in the 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays Sunday.

When Didi Gregorius led off the seventh inning with his 19th homer of the season, it ended the Yankees' string of run-less innings at 33, a span that included being shut out in each of their three previous games.

They avoided the embarrassment of becoming the first American League team to be blanked in four consecutive games since the introduction of the designated hitter in 1973. The Washington Senators were the last AL team to be shut out in four straight games and that was Sept. 1-5, 1964.

The Yankees also looked as if they would win the game Sunday when they scored twice to go ahead 3-2 in the ninth only to have the Blue Jays score the tying run on a safety squeeze and the winning run on a two-out infield single to earn their third straight victory.

The Blue Jays remain in the first wild-card spot by 1 1/2 games over the Baltimore Orioles, who start a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday.

The Yankees have lost four games in a row — and 11 of their past 14 — and are 5 1/2 games removed from a wild-card spot.

They have lost eight games in a row at Rogers Centre.

There have been few of those losses tougher to take than the one on Sunday.

“It's tough, it's really tough,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The loss took the Yankees one step closer to elimination from a chance to participate in the postseason.

“It stinks,” Girardi said. “We've been fighting and fighting. You think about some of these games we've lost, they've been really tough. We've gotten good pitching performances, we've lost in a number of different ways. It's just been tough.”

The Blue Jays seem to be righting themselves. They lost nine of their first 12 games in September and now are 10-12 for the month.

Marco Estrada, who did not factor in the decision Sunday despite allowing only one run in seven innings, feels the revival of the Blue Jays goes beyond the three straight wins to open the final seven-game home stand of the season.

“I don't think it's the last three games, I think it goes back even further,” he said, referring to the series in Seattle where throngs of Canadian fans cheered the Blue Jays on to win two of three games from the Mariners. “Going to Seattle and just seeing that atmosphere, seeing the fans, all the support we're getting on the road, it means a lot to us. It definitely pumps us up a bit.

“And then coming home and seeing sold-out crowds. It's a great feeling to be a part of this team right now. We're obviously very excited to be home and this atmosphere, you just can't beat it right now.

“So it definitely gives us a lot of energy and it pumps us up a lot. And we're playing really good baseball right now. Our pitching has been really good, especially this series. It's a tough lineup over there on the other side and we're able to pitch pretty well against them.

“I'm glad our pitching is back to what it has been all year basically and obviously our hitting has been tremendous and we were able to score a few runs at the end.”

The Blue Jays will have their 20-game winner, J.A. Happ, going for them on Monday against the Yankees. Happ will go for his fourth win in a row. He is 3-0 with a 2.65 earned-run average in his past three starts. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this season and is 6-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 13 career starts against them.

The Yankees did not officially announce a starter for Monday although Girardi said it likely will be right-hander Luis Severino, who has had more success this season as a reliever.

Severino is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in 11 relief appearances. He is 0-8 with an 8.58 ERA in nine starts this season with the Yankees. In 13 games (12 starts) at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he was 8-2 with a 3.49 ERA. He pitched three scoreless innings in one relief appearance against the Blue Jays this season. In four career outings against Toronto, including three starts, he is 0-2, 5.71 ERA.