If the waiting is the hardest part what follows is more important for the Yankees.
Led by baby-faced right-hander Deivi Garcia and home runs from Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees hung a 7-2 loss on the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on Wednesday night in Buffalo. Torres went 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs to make sure Blue Jays didn’t sweep the three-game series.
Now the challenge for the Yankees is to string victories together, not only to stay in touch with the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East but to separate themselves from the Orioles in the AL wild-card race.
Asked before the game if one win could be a springboard to more, Aaron Boone responded quickly.
“I do and believe that is going to happen,’’ Boone said. “I am absolutely confident that we are going to look up in two weeks and having put this behind us and putting us in a decent position moving forward. It starts with one win.’’
The victory halted a five-game losing streak for the Yankees, who had lost 15 of 20. It also moved them to within two games of the Blue Jays in the race for second place in the AL East.
In his third big-league start, the 21-year-old Garcia allowed two runs in seven innings to bag his first major league victory. After giving up a two-run homer to Derek Fisher in the second, Garcia retired 18 of the final 20 Blue Jays he faced — working with a deceptive fastball, changeup and slider. He also retired the final eight hitters.
Gleyber Torres, who wore glasses during the game, drove in three runs with a solo homer in the second and a two-run double in fifth.
The victory sent the 22-21 Yankees home, where they open a critical four-game series against the Orioles. They are 14-7 in The Bronx compared to 8-14 on the road.
At some point the Yankees were going to cop a victory, but that Garcia and Torres would spearhead it was somewhat of a surprise. Garcia was coming off a 4 ²/₃-inning outing against the Orioles, in which he allowed four runs and five hits in a 6-3 loss.
Torres went 2-for-11 in his first four games back from the injured list.
When Garcia finished the seventh, he showed his right palm to the medical staff in the dugout which indicated a possible blister had developed.
Zack Britton worked the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman recorded the final three outs in a non-save situation.
Gary Sanchez continued to slump, going 0-for-3 with a walk, but he made a nice play to throw out Randal Grichuk at second to end the eighth. Grichuk attempted to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
Garcia allowed a one-out double to Jonathan Davis with one out in the home fifth with the Yankees leading, 5-2. He got Cavan Biggio on a grounder to first baseman Luke Voit and struck out Grichuk to keep the cushion intact.
With the score tied, 2-2, Tyler Wade opened the fifth with a sharp single to right against right-handed reliever Ross Stripling. LeMahieu’s soft ground ball to the right side moved Wade to second and gave the Yankees their first base runner in scoring position.
The Yankees entered the game hitting .176 (23-for-131) in the previous 20 games and had one hit in 23 at-bats with men in scoring position.
Voit didn’t continue the trend. He took a 0-1 breaking ball from Stripling and hit it to the right-field side of center to easily score Wade from second and push the Yankees into a 3-2 lead. Aaron Hicks walked and Clint Frazier fanned on a 3-2 breaking ball for the second out before Torres ripped a two-run double over the third-base bag that upped the Yankees’ lead to 5-2.
Garcia gave up a leadoff single to Biggio in the third then struck out Grichuk, Travis Shaw and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the last on a 95 mph fastball. Garcia followed that by retiring the next three Blue Jays in the fourth on seven pitches that left him with a pitch count of 59.
Fisher put the Blue Jays head, 2-1, with a home run to right field in the second that was answered by LeMahieu’s opposite-field home run to right in the third.
Including LeMahieu’s, the past 10 Yankees homers have been hit with the bases empty.
A leadoff walk to LeMahieu in the first inning didn’t turn into a run but Torres, the Yankees’ first batter in the second, didn’t leave it up to somebody else to drive him in by hitting a 2-2 pitch from Jays’ starter Tanner Roark 438 feet over the wall in left-center for the game’s first run.