Starlin Castro hit his 20th homer of the season to help the Yankees sweep the Blue Jays

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Starlin Castro – ESPN

The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays in a nail bitter of a game, 2-0, and were remarkably able to sweep the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays, who were in first place when the series started, are now a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees are now 4.5 games out of first place in the AL East and 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot.

The Bronx Bombers got just enough on offense to finish off the sweep of their rivals to the north. Toronto has the deeper lineup, but the Yankees were able to out hit them nine to five. The nine hits would have led to more runs if they were better than one for six with runners in scoring position.

Starlin Castro hit a homer over the State Farm scoreboard in left field in the third inning against Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Castro now has 20 homers and he is only the fourth Yankee second baseman in franchise history with 20 or more homers in a season. The others were Robinson Cano (from 2009-2013), Alfonso Soriano (2002-2003) and Joe Gordon (1938-1941).

Later in the third, Brian McCann singled to right to score Didi Gregorius. McCann, who has become the regular DH with the emergence of Gary Sanchez, has three hits in his last 12 at-bats (.250) with a homer and two RBI. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury both had two hits.

Bryan Mitchell was stellar in his first start this season for the Yankees. He missed the first five months of the campaign after suffering a fractured sesamoid bone and Grade 3 turf toe during a spring training game against the Braves on March 30. He would need surgery the next week. He would have been an important part of the pitching staff if not for the freak injury and he appears ready to be fulfill that potential down the stretch.

Mitchell pitched five innings while not allowing a run, giving up only four hits, two walks and striking out two. He threw 49 of his 80 pitches for strikes and was able to get Edwin Encarnacion to hit into a double play in the first and got Devon Travis to hit into a double play in the third inning.

“After the whole season, what I went through, tonight’s very rewarding,” Mitchell said. “It’s been my goal all year to get back here.”

Luis Severino, who has been virtually un-hittable as a reliever this season, pitched the sixth through eighth innings while allowing a hit, a walk and striking out three. Severino has faced 50 batters as a relief pitcher and has only allowed two hits. Also, in 14.1 innings pitching out of the bullpen this season, he has not allowed an earned run and has 16 strikeouts and six walks. They likely would not have gotten the win without his three dominant innings as Dellin Betances and Adam Warren were both not available.

To close out the game, Tyler Clippard picked up his first save of the season while not allowing a hit and striking out two. The former Yankee was a starter for the team in his rookie season in 2007 and was reacquired from the Diamondbacks before the trade deadline. He has a 0.56 ERA as the run the Mets scored off of him on August 3 was the only earned run he has allowed in his 16 innings with the Yankees. He has been a valuable trade deadline acquisition after the trades of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

The Yankees are 65-51 since May 1, which is the fifth best record in the American League. The only teams with better records since then are the Blue Jays (66-48), Astros (67-48), Indians (70-47) and Rangers (69-46). They are also 21-13 since the trade deadline.

“We’ll get there (the postseason) if we continue playing the way we’re playing. If we continue to win series…we’ll be all right,” Castro said.

The Yankees begin a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. It’s important that the Yankees sweep the 59-79 Rays to have a chance at a playoff spot because their schedule will be more challenging after Sunday’s game.

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