Aaron Judge’s bat hammers Blue Jays 6-0

TORONTO – The best pitcher in the American League put the Toronto Blue Jays’ playoff hopes on hold, at least for another day.

Gerrit Cole put the finishing touches on his Cy Young Award resume with a commanding two-hit complete game shutout as the New York Yankees rolled past the Blue Jays 6-0 on Wednesday.

Toronto holds the American League’s second wild-card spot, with only the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in position to catch them.

The loss left Toronto a game ahead of the Astros in the wild-card race and 1 1/2 ahead of the Mariners, who hosted Houston later Wednesday.

“They know where we are,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider of his players. “You’re taking it one day at a time, really.

“They know that. I don’t think that there’s a reason to reiterate that to them.”

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Cole (15-4) is the odds-on favourite to win the Cy Young as the American League’s best pitcher, according to most major online sportsbooks. Because New York is already eliminated from the post-season picture, it was Cole’s last start of 2023.

He finished his season with an AL-best 2.63 earned-run average, 209 innings pitched, 222 strikeouts, and league-leading 24 quality starts.

“That’s just a clinic in pitching,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “I think it embodied his season right there.

“(He) absolutely put an exclamation point on the Cy Young Award with that performance.”

Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman has the fourth-best odds of winning the Cy Young, behind Seattle’s Luis Castillo and Minnesota’s Sonny Gray.

Cole had insisted all season that he didn’t want to be distracted by talk of winning his first-ever Cy Young.

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He was asked after the win if he had let it sink in that he was the front-runner for the award.

“Yeah, I’m on my second Labatt’s,” he quipped.

Aaron Judge belted a pair of two-run homers as New York (81-77) won its third straight. Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run single in the fifth inning.

José Berríos (11-12) struck out 10, but allowed four runs on five hits and three walks over six innings.

Relievers Trevor Richards, Genesis Cabrera, and Jay Jackson followed Berríos to the mound as Toronto (87-71) missed another opportunity to close in on a playoff berth.

Berríos, who also pitched his last game of the regular season, said his teammates know that a win would clarify their playoff fate.

“We still want it. We want to make that happen,” said Berríos.

“Tonight is already in the past so we’re going to go home, rest, and come tomorrow ready for tomorrow’s game.”

Although Cole is a Cy Young candidate, Berríos was also dealing in the early innings Wednesday.

He struck out three on 12 pitches in the second, including ringing up Anthony Volpe on just three pitches.

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Berríos walked DJ LeMahieu to lead off the fourth inning for New York’s first baserunner of the game.

Judge immediately capitalized, crushing the first pitch he saw in the next at bat. His 36th homer of the year flew 395 feet with an exit velocity of 112.3 m.p.h., landing in the visitors’ bullpen.

New York piled on in the fifth.

Berríos struck out two Yankees but gave up a hit to Ben Rortvedt to start the inning.

He then intentionally walked Judge and threw Gleyber Torres four balls. Stanton’s sharply hit line drive to left field scored Rortvedt and Judge for a 4-0 New York lead.

Judge continued to menace Toronto in the seventh, launching his second two-run homer of the night to the second deck at Rogers Centre. That home run flew 424 feet with an exit velocity of 112.7 m.p.h., scoring Oswald Peraza for a 6-0 New York lead.

It was the seventh multihomer game this season for the Yankees captain.

RAPTORS AND LEAFS IN THE DOME — Toronto Maple Leafs stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly took batting practice with the Blue Jays before the game. Toronto Raptors first-round draft pick Gradey Dick then threw out the opening pitch.

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ON DECK — Chris Bassitt (15-8) will start for Toronto in the finale of the three-game series with New York.

Luke Weaver (3-5) is scheduled for the Yankees.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.

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