Locked in a virtual three-way tie for the AL wild-card lead, the New York Yankees will continue the chase for their 11th straight postseason berth when they play the second game of their four-game series with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees cruised to a 7-0 win in the series opener Monday, moving into a tie with Oakland and Cleveland in the tightly packed race for the league’s wild card. The defending seven-time AL East champions also pulled within 3 1/2 games of the idle first-place Boston Red Sox.
New York has been behind in both the wild card and division race since July 18, when it took a short-lived half-game lead over the Red Sox in the East.
“In our situation, we were just happy to be hanging around,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “As badly as we played at times and as frustrating as some streaks have been, we always managed to stay close enough to make sure that if we did go into a little hot streak, we could do something.
“And right now, we control our own destiny. That’s really all you want. We have our future in our hands”
On Monday, Jaret Wright won his second straight game since coming back from a shoulder injury, pitching seven sharp innings. Hideki Matsui drove in three runs and Alex Rodriguez reached 100 RBIs with an eighth-inning double.
The Yankees had to play without shortstop Derek Jeter, who sat out with a slightly jammed right thumb, only the third game New York’s captain has missed this season.
Jeter was hurt sliding Saturday at Chicago, Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone said. Jeter played Sunday, and Torre decided to try to give the shortstop Monday off.
“We hope Jeter will play tomorrow,” Torre said. “We were able to get away without him tonight. We’ll see.”
Al Leiter is looking to win his third straight decision for the Yankees. He is facing the Blue Jays for the second time since joining New York in mid-July.
In the Yankees’ 6-2 win over Toronto on Aug. 7, Leiter pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and four walks.
In his last start, the Yankees’ 7-6 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Leiter allowed three runs and two hits through five innings, and never seemed in control as he walked five and hit a batter.
The Blue Jays are looking to end their four-game losing streak, their longest slide since the All-Star break. Toronto will start righty Josh Towers, who is looking to win his third straight start.
After a 12-0 win over Baltimore on Aug. 12, Towers allowed one run and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.