|Blue Jays look to play spoilers against Yankees|
TORONTO -- The New York Yankees will make another effort to clinch a wild-card spot Saturday afternoon.
They were unable to clinch Friday night when the Toronto Blue Jays won the opener of a three-game series at the Rogers Center 8-1.
The loss also hurt any chance the Yankees might have had of catching the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Red Sox defeated the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 Friday night to move four games ahead of the Yankees.
The Yankees will send out right-hander Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA) against Blue Jays right-hander Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33).
The Blue Jays are playing spoilers but also hope to be able to give right fielder Jose Bautista a good send-off this weekend in what could be his final two games with the team at home.
It is widely speculated that the Blue Jays will not pick up his $17 million option for next season.
The crowd has given him an ovation at each at-bat during this homestand, although he is in an 0-for-14 drought after going 0-for-2 with two walks and an RBI on Friday.
"I think all his teammates want him to go out with a bang, there's no doubt about that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They've all seen him do it many a time. I know everybody's rooting for him."
Gibbons also expects Bautista to do something memorable even though most of his best work through the first four games of the homestand has come with his glove in right field.
He is batting .086 (3-for-35) over his past 10 games.
Bautista is aware of the crowd support.
"I feel like they're a little louder," Bautista said. "I can't really say why they're being a little louder. But it does feel good to receive that kind of support."
The loss Friday emphasized a Yankees problem. Masahiro Tanaka allowed three home runs, including a grand slam, and eight runs (seven earned) in 5 2/3 innings and no longer can be counted on to be the ace.
That leaves either Luis Severino or Gray as the potential starter in the American League wild-card game.
"You look at everything, but I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We still haven't clinched anything. We need to win games and we need to play well. (Friday night), we didn't."
"We're still looking to win the division," said Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier, who was tagged out by Blue Jays shortstop Ryan Goins in the third inning Friday on the hidden-ball trick.
"We know we have a really good shot at making the playoffs, of course, but we still have an opportunity to win the division so I think our mindset is still on that."
As for his embarrassing out, he said. "Bonehead play by me, to be honest with you. I try and do that, too. I thought the ball was thrown in. Just one of those things. Nothing you can do about it afterward, it's just one of those things where you've got to have a little better mindset and understand what's going on in the game."
Gray will make his 10th start for the Yankees Saturday.
The 27-year-old took the loss Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles when he had his shortest outing of the season, allowing six hits, two walks, five earned runs and one home run while striking out four in four innings.
He is 3-6 with a 3.29 ERA in nine starts with the Yankees. He is 7-8 with a 2.49 ERA over his past 15 starts, the fourth lowest ERA in the American League since June 25.
He was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in a trade on July 31.
He is 0-2 with a 1.50 ERA this season against Toronto and 1-3, 2.52 in four career starts against the Blue Jays.
Biagini will continue his audition for a possible starting role next season.
He has been inconsistent in his past five starts, going 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA. In two of the starts -- both against the Baltimore Orioles -- he went seven and eight innings respectively. In the other three starts, he went 3 2/3, 3 1/3 and 1 1/3 innings.
After being handed a 5-0 lead Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, he did not survive the second inning, allowing five hits (two home runs), one walk and six runs (four earned) in taking the loss. He has one start against the Yankees when he allowed four hits, one walk three runs (one earned) while striking out six on June 3. He had another appearance in relief against the Yankees this season, and he is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in those two contests.
He is 1-2 with a 2.51 ERA in eight career games (one start) against the Yankees. In 16 career starts -- all this season -- he is 2-10 with a 5.77 ERA.