Stroman strong as Martin's HR leads Jays past Yankees 4-0
TORONTO (AP) A huge home run by Russell Martin gave the Blue Jays some breathing room atop the AL East.
Martin hit a three-run homer, Marcus Stroman pitched seven strong innings to win his third straight start and Toronto beat the New York Yankees 4-0 on Wednesday night, extending their division lead to 3 1/2 games.
Martin, a former Yankee, connected off Andrew Bailey in the seventh, matching his career high for homers with 21, as Toronto took two of three from New York in a showdown between the East's top teams.
''Definitely a good feeling for me,'' Martin said. ''I know the boys enjoyed it, too. A good win.''
Toronto finished 13-6 against New York, a club record for wins against the Yankees.
New York has 11 games remaining, while Toronto has 10. Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that his team's hopes of winning the division are slim.
''It's not mathematically impossible, but it's difficult,'' Girardi said. ''We're going to have to be almost perfect.''
Stroman (3-0) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out five in his third start since returning from a torn knee ligament suffered in spring training. The outing lowered his ERA to 1.89.
''That was really the perfect game for him to pitch in,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ''It was a big game, a real big game and he came through.''
Brett Cecil worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished.
Starting in place of Masahiro Tanaka (right hamstring), New York right-hander Ivan Nova (6-9) took the mound for the first time since allowing six runs in 1 2-3 innings of a Sept. 12 loss to Toronto.
Nova, who had allowed at least three earned runs in each of his previous seven outings, kept the Blue Jays scoreless through five before departing after a two-out walk to Martin in the sixth.
''He did a tremendous job for us,'' Girardi said. ''It's unfortunate we weren't able to score him any runs.''
James Pazos came on and gave up a single to Ryan Goins, sending Martin to third. Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced Pazos with Caleb Cotham, who allowed a first-pitch RBI single to Kevin Pillar.
''That's the biggest hit of my life,'' Pillar said. ''Maybe the best feeling I've ever had on a baseball field.''
Pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera walked to load the bases, but Brett Gardner made a running catch on Ben Revere's fly ball to left to end the threat.
New York used a walk and a single to put runners at first and second with two outs in the seventh, but Stroman finished his outing by getting Dustin Ackley to line out to center.
''If he puts it in the gap we've got two runs,'' Girardi said. ''He just hit it right at him.''
Josh Donaldson doubled off Bailey to begin the seventh and went to third on Jose Bautista's groundout. Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked and Justin Smoak struck out before Martin drilled a 2-2 pitch into the left field bullpen, delighting the sellout crowd of 48,056.
''I was trying to go inside and didn't execute my pitch,'' Bailey said. ''In that situation you've just got to be better and make better pitches.''
Before the game, a video tribute and moment of silence honored former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, who died of natural causes on Tuesday night at age 90. An image of Berra wearing catcher's gear was in the background of New York's lineup cards.
The Yankees wore Berra's 8 on their left sleeve, and will do so for the remainder of the season. The team intends to honor Berra before Thursday's home game against the Chicago White Sox.
BLUE JAYS TWEAK ROTATION
Toronto will flip LHPs David Price and Mark Buehrle in the starting rotation this weekend to keep Price on regular rest and give Buehrle six days off between starts. The switch also lines up Price to pitch on regular rest in a potential wild card game.
Yankees: Girardi said Tanaka will be examined by doctors again Thursday. ''We'll try to get him back on the mound as soon as we can,'' Girardi said. ''He feels pretty good. We're encouraged with the way he feels.''
Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki (broken left shoulder blade) played catch and took a few swings off a tee before the game. There is no timetable for his return. ... 2B Devon Travis underwent surgery on his left shoulder. Travis had a cyst drained, but no structural damage was found. He'll return in spring training.
Yankees: New York returns home to begin a four-game series against the White Sox on Thursday. RHP Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10 ERA) starts for the Yankees against Chicago LHP Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47). Pineda is unbeaten in his last four starts, his longest such run since the first seven starts of the season.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off Thursday before opening a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Friday. R.A. Dickey (10-11, 4.05 ERA) will start against Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-8, 3.38). Dickey is 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts against the Rays this season.