Yanks crafting latest win streak 'in so many different ways'

Taillon fans 8; Holmes sets new club mark; Hicks delivers with bases full

June 19th, 2022

TORONTO -- What makes these Yankees special, in manager Aaron Boone’s eyes, is their ability to keep winning games “in so many different ways.”

The latest of New York’s nine straight wins came by way of pitching dominance and a little bit of history, as the Yankees blanked the Blue Jays, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon and continued their winning ways over American League East opponents.

“I’ve been saying that a lot, but it continues to ring true,” said Boone. “[Friday] was just a huge offensive explosion with the long ball, and tonight was pitching and defense and a couple of really good at-bats in big spots off a really good pitcher. So, just another really good win by the guys doing it in a lot of different ways.”

It started with Jameson Taillon, who felt right at home on the Rogers Centre mound. He fanned eight Blue Jays batters over 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, with four hits and two walks allowed -- the first time all year he’s allowed more than one base on balls in one game.

Clay Holmes closed it out by entering the record books. The Yankees' reliever pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings with a strikeout, no hits allowed and no walks. It was his 29th consecutive scoreless outing, a new franchise record that was previously held by Mariano Rivera.

It earned him the team’s championship belt on Saturday, awarded to the most impactful player in a game.

“You think about this storied franchise and you bring up the name Mariano. I mean, what more can you say,” said Boone. “He’s been absolutely dominant and was again today.”

Holmes is sporting a 0.28 ERA over 32 innings pitched. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since Opening Day, the sole blemish in an elite season.

The 29-year-old understands the weight of what he achieved on Saturday.

“Just the fact that it’s Mariano Rivera makes it pretty special,” said Holmes. “He’s a guy that I grew up watching, I think everybody did. What he’s done for this game is pretty amazing. So just to be in the same category for this one little thing he’s done is pretty cool.”

Saturday’s win hinged heavily on the Yankees’ staff in large part due to Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah, an early Cy Young contender who’s had plenty of success against New York in his career. But as the visiting pitchers kept dealing, the offense took what it was given, delivering good at-bats through nine innings and relying on a lot of left-handed batters against Manoah.

Aaron Hicks was the offensive difference-maker, launching a bases-loaded double that drove in three Yankees runs in the fourth. The outfielder worked a 3-1 count, laying off the right pitches before squaring up on a fastball that cleared the bags and gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

It was Hicks’ first bases-loaded extra-base hit since June 1, 2017, when he also notched a three-run double in Toronto.

“Obviously, [Manoah] is about as tough as they come, but I thought we had a lot of good at-bats against him,” said Boone. “[Hicks] has been gaining a little traction over the last few weeks, doing a lot better and getting some results. … It was certainly the at-bat of the game for us.”

The win gave the Yankees a 17th series victory -- of 20 total series -- and 24 wins in 34 games against division opponents. New York leads the AL East by 12 games.

There’s an added level of reassurance in knowing that not all wins are created equal.

“It just seems like every day we show up, we expect to find a way to win that night,” said Taillon, who got his eighth win on Saturday and lowered his ERA to 2.70. “There’s a confidence within the group that we’re going to find a way to do it.”

Whether that mentality begets camaraderie or the other way around, this group has enjoyed and capitalized on the favorable moment.

“They love playing with each other,” said Boone. “They love coming to work with each other and preparing and then going out and playing the game. They’re having fun playing it, they’re relaxed, but they’re incredibly focused on walking through those doors and [saying], ‘How can we win a game today?’”