TORONTO — The Yankees can crush a team, like they did Friday night. They can scrape out wins, like they did in the three-game sweep of the Rays earlier this week. The pitchers can shut teams down, like Jameson Taillon did to the Blue Jays Saturday. And they can come up with an unlikely hero against the best pitcher in the American League.
The Yankees seem to be able to find a different way to win every day.
Struggling outfielder Aaron Hicks hammered a three-run double off Blue Jays’ young power pitcher Alek Manoah and Taillon and the Yankees bullpen threw a shutout as the Yankees beat Toronto 4-0 at the Rogers Centre.
The Yankees (49-16) have won nine straight games and clinched this three-game series, their 17th series win of the season. The Yankees are 8-3 against the Blue Jays (37-28) this season and now have a 12-game lead on them in the American League East. They maintained the best record in baseball and with 49 wins have the second best start in franchise history through 65 games.
Hicks came up with the big hit, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Gleyber Torres each had two hits and Taillon picked up his third straight win over the Blue Jays this season and he combined with Michael King and Clay Holmes to pitch their 11th shutout of the season .
Taillon outpitched Manoah, who’d been a Yankees-slayer in the past.
The Yankees had managed just four runs off Manoah in the 23 2/3 previous innings he faced them. They got four in just 5 1/3 innings on Sunday. He got through the lineup easily the first time, but the second time around the Yankees got to him.
Anthony Rizzo drew a leadoff walk and Torres singled. After Joey Gallo struck out, Kiner-Falefa beat out a ground ball to shortstop Bo Bichette to load the bases for Hicks.
That has not normally been a good spot for the struggling outfielder. He was 0 for 4 with the bases loaded coming into the game and according to YES his last extra-base hit with the bases loaded was in 2017.
But Saturday, Hicks worked Manoah for four pitches before getting the fastball he liked and lined it into right field to clear the bases. It was just the second double of the season for Hicks and just his fourth extra-base hit and 14th RBI of the year. It was the first time in 11 games that Hicks drove in a run.
Torres and Kiner-Falefa hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth to add on a run to Manoah’s day.
It was really the first time the Yankees offense had gotten to Manoah since the first time they saw him in spring training 2021. That day, the unknown prospect struck out the first seven Yankees hitters he faced in Dunedin.
“We didn’t know who he was and he was dominant, and then obviously he had his first start at Yankee Stadium, his [big league] debut and pitched really well. I don’t know if he’s evolved any. I mean, he’s been pretty much great from Jump Street,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So I mean, if you’re going up against him you know it’s gonna be a challenge and you have to be on your game. if you’re gonna have a chance to beat him.”
It was the first time in five starts the Yankees pinned a loss on Manoah. The Yankees’ offense wore him down, but they also got pitching to match him.
Taillon was strong Saturday. The right-hander held the Blue Jays’ dangerous lineup scoreless, scattering four hits and striking out eight. Taillon walked two, the first time this season he has walked more than one batter in a game. He has walked nine in 73 1/3 innings pitched over 13 starts.
King gave the Yankees two scoreless innings and Holmes came in with one on and two outs in the eighth to get Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk to ground out at third base. Holmes’ scoreless 1 1/3 innings Saturday, extended his streak to 31 1/3 straight innings, surpassing Mariano Rivera’s franchise record of 30 2/3 set back in 1999. Holmes has not allowed a run to score since April 8.