TORONTO — Jameson Taillon has made almost a third of his starts this season against the Blue Jays, who got their fourth crack at him on Saturday.
Toronto, however, has yet to put much of a dent in Taillon’s 2.70 ERA.
Taillon (8-1) turned in his latest strong start against the Yankees’ AL East foe, tossing 5 ²/₃ scoreless innings and striking out a season-high eight in a 4-0 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The right-hander scattered just four hits and two walks over his outing, leading the Yankees to a ninth straight win and that extended their division cushion over the Blue Jays to 12 games. Taillon, who has had a big hand in the Yankees handling the Blue Jays this season, improved to 3-1 against them with a 2.05 ERA across 22 innings.
“I respect them a lot, so maybe that has something to do with it where I definitely don’t want to miss over the plate much,” Taillon said. “When I face them, I’m sure to get my pitches to the right spots. It was a good day.”
Entering Saturday, the Blue Jays had the majors’ fourth-best batting average (.257), third-best OPS (.752) and were scoring the 11th-most runs (4.55 per game), no thanks to Taillon.
Against Toronto’s right-handed-heavy lineup, Taillon leaned on his slider to keep hitters off balance. He also had solid command of his fastball and sinker, getting three of his eight strikeouts looking.
“I think just having another gear this year and being able to incorporate sinkers with the slider, it’s helping against righties,” manager Aaron Boone said. “But still has a lot to feature against lefties too. I think he’s just happened to really be on top of his game, which he needs to be against a team like that and an offense like that.”
The Blue Jays threatened to break through in the second and fifth innings, to no avail. In the second, back-to-back one-out singles put runners on the corners, but Taillon got Matt Chapman to pop out and then struck out Santiago Espinal looking at a slider.
In the fifth, Raimel Tapia hit a leadoff double, but Taillon responded by striking out the next three batters to strand him at second.
Taillon then got some help to escape the sixth inning with his ledger still clean. He issued another leadoff walk to George Springer — his second of the day, the first game this season in which he has walked more than one — before Bo Bichette singled. Taillon finished on a high note, getting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to pop up to shallow left field and Alejandro Kirk to fly out before Michael King entered to record the final out of the inning and strand runners on the corners.
With his latest outing, Taillon kept improving his bid for an All-Star selection.
“That’d be cool,” Taillon said. “I already booked some All-Star plans, so I don’t know if I’m really expecting it or not, but it would definitely be a cool honor.”