Wining meaningful games in August, not something Toronto Blue Jays fans have experienced since the team’s back-to-back World Series triumphs in 1992 and 1993.
The Jays made it seven straight wins Saturday with a 6-0 win over the New York Yankees. David Price made his second Toronto start, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball while Justin Smoak hit the first ever grand slam by a Blue Jay in the old or new Yankee Stadiums.
Another newcomer Troy Tulowitzki hit a home run of his own when he made it three long balls in a Jays uniform as Toronto moved within 2 1/2 games of the AL-East leading Yankees.
For years, the Yankees have dominated games and the season series against the Jays, and often finishing the season more than 10 games ahead of them in the division. But now, Toronto will try and sweep a series of at least three games between the two sides for the first time since May 2003.
One of Toronto’s main concerns this season has been pitching, though their starters have been amongst the league's best since the All-Star break. A day after R.A. Dickey led the Jays to a 2-1 victory, Price (11-4) dominated and combined with the bullpen for a shutout of one of the league’s highest-scoring teams.
Price allowed just three hits while striking out two with his new team. Through his first two starts, he has a 0.60 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 18 strikeouts and two wins.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing against the Yankees for Price, however, as he carried a 33.26 ERA in his last two starts against the pin-strips with the Detroit Tigers. The change of uniform seemed to do the trick as he performed like his prime 2012 Cy Young Award winning self.
Ivan Nova (4-4) had a solid outing of his own, surrendering just two hits to the powerful Jays lineup heading into the sixth before they tagged him up.
Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a hit with one out on the board. Smoak stepped up and belted one into the center field stands to break open a then scoreless game for his 10th homer of the season.
Smoak has struggled recently with his batting average down to .225 before his grand slam at-bat, but has a knack of coming up with key hits when needed.
Tulowitzki’s home run in the seventh made it 5-0. The Jays are 10-0 with him in the lineup since arriving in a trade with the Colorado Rockies.
Russell Martin added an insurance run in the eighth, hitting an infield single to score Bautista from third.
Marco Estrada heads to the mound tomorrow for the Jays when he hopes to keep the Yankee bats quiet and complete the sweep; he will be countered by Masahiro Tanaka.