TORONTO — Though not yet in the same league as past Yankee-killers Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez, Alek Manoah certainly seemed well on his way.
But not even the 24-year-old Blue Jays righthander, who in four previous starts against the Yankees was nothing short of dominant, could slow the current team down.
Sparked by a three-run double by Aaron Hicks with two outs in the fourth and another solid outing by Jameson Taillon, the Yankees won their ninth straight game Saturday, earning a 4-0 victory over the Blue Jays in front of 45,055 at Rogers Centre.
“I think winning’s almost a little contagious to the point it seems like we show every day and expect to win,” Taillon said. “It just seems like every day we show up, we expect to win that night. There’s a confidence within the group we’re going to find a way to do it.”
The Yankees (49-16), who have won 16 of their last 17 games and 42 of their last 52, dropped the second-place Blue Jays 12 games back in the AL East.
Manoah (8-2, 2.00 ERA), who was 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in his previous four starts against the Yankees, allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1⁄3 innings. He allowed as many earned runs Saturday as he had combined in those previous outings against them. Manoah had been 10-0 in 15 career starts at home.
“Obviously, he’s about as tough as they come,” Aaron Boone said. “But we had a lot of good at-bats against him . . . and the pitching took it from there.”
Taillon (8-1, 2.70) continued the roll he’s been on pretty much since the start of the season, allowing four hits and two walks in 5 2⁄3 innings in which he struck out a season-high eight.
Clay Holmes worked the final 1 1⁄3 innings, running his streak of scoreless innings to 31 1⁄3, the second-longest streak by a Yankees pitcher since Jack Aker set the record (33 innings) in 1969. His 29 straight relief appearances without allowing a run broke a tie with Mariano Rivera for the longest such streak in club history.
“He’s doing the impossible, it seems like,” said Michael King, who preceded Holmes to the mound and struck out three in two innings.
The Yankees put two on in the fourth when Anthony Rizzo walked with one out and Gleyber Torres singled on a 1-and-2 pitch. Manoah struck out Joey Gallo for the second out, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on an infield single (Torres went into second base standing up, possibly affecting Bo Bichette’s throw to first). Hicks, who had been 7-for-56 (.125) with the bases loaded in his career, then lined a 3-and-1 fastball down the rightfield line for a double and a 3-0 lead. The Yankees’ dugout reacted as if the struggling Hicks, popular among his teammates, had hit a walk-off homer.
It was only the third extra-base hit with the bases loaded of Hicks’ career and first since 2017. All three have been doubles. He had been 5-for-40 with runners in scoring position and 1-for-10 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.
“Certainly,” Boone said, “the at-bat of the game for us.”
Said Hicks: “I was just really trying to use the middle of the field. I got to a 3-1 count and didn’t miss a fastball. Felt good to be able to [come through], especially when I’ve had a lot of hard times with men in scoring position. I’d hit it hard but right at somebody or just didn’t get the job done. Felt good to get the hit.”
Manoah then hit Jose Trevino in the chest with a pitch — Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was ejected after arguing that Trevino swung at the pitch — but ended the 33-pitch inning by inducing a groundout by Marwin Gonzalez.
Torres led off the sixth with a long double to left on a ball that Raimel Tapia initially appeared to catch; the out call was overturned when replays showed the ball had popped out of his glove and hit the wall. One out later, Kiner-Falefa scorched a 0-and-2 sinker to left for an RBI double to make it 4-0.
“Doing it so many different ways,” Boone said. “Been saying that a lot, but it continues to ring true.”