The New York Yankees have suffered a dip in form in recent weeks, but put that to bed with a much-needed walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.
The Bronx Bombers picked up only their fourth win of August as their form has dropped dramatically.
They now face a tough four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are still in the hunt for an American League Wild Card place.
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees, Game One of Four
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York City
19:05 EST Friday August 19th, 2022
|How to watch:|
SNET, YES, MLBN
Toronto Blue Jays +120, New York Yankees -140
The recent dip in form has frustrated much of the Yankees' fan base as it has the players and management.
Going into Wednesday night's game against the Rays, the Bronx Bombers had lost 11 out of their previous 13 matches. The dip was becoming unsavoury.
However, thanks to a Josh Donaldson 10th inning, walk-off grand slam they defeated their divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, and quashed a three-game losing streak and made their lead in the American League East Division go back to 10 games over the Rays and Blue Jays.
Donaldson became only the third Yankee to hit a walk-off grand slam with his team trailing by three runs. The other two? Babe Ruth in 1925 and Jason Giambi in 2002.
Donaldson spoke to the YES network post game and said: "I think that's who we are as a team; I don't think the last two weeks is who we are.
"I think that's more of a blip than anything. For us to be ourselves, go out there and compete to the final out and pick each other up, that's what we do."
That win was the Yankees' 13th walk-off win of the year. Could Donaldson's be the most important?
The Blue Jays are on a poor run of form themselves, winning just two of the previous eight games.
Wednesday's victory against the Baltimore Orioles was a huge relief for the fans after giving up four losses to their divisional rivals, also knowing that a win for Baltimore would have put them ahead of the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card positions.
Step to the plate Ross Stripling. The 32-year has only just returned from the injured list but put in a fine performance on the mound.
He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning before being pulled by team manager John Schneider after 72 pitches. The veteran pitcher struck out seven and didn't issue a walk in perhaps his most valuable start of the season.
Speaking to MLB.com, Interim boss Schneider said about Stripling: "You can call him 'Bob Ross' Stripling today. He was painting.
"When you get an effort like that, it puts the bullpen in the right spot. He gave us a shot in the arm coming back off the IL. He was absolutely fantastic."
For Game one, the Blue Jays will have Jose Berrios on the mound. The 28-year-old has a 8-5 record with a 5.61 ERA, however lost his last start versus the Yankees in May, giving up five earned runs.
The Yankees will send Frankie Montas to pitch. The right-hander has a 4-9 record this season with a 3.59 ERA. The 29-year-old was given no-decisions in his last two outings, however his last win was on 26th July against the Houston Astros.
The Yankees hold a lead over the Blue Jays in 2022, winning eight of the 12 encounters between the two sides. This is the start of a four-game series and they will play the three final games at the end of September at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The Blue Jays won 11 of the 19 meetings between the two sides last season and still failed to qualify for the playoffs, while the Yankees lost out to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Wild Card game.
Toronto knows they have to improve their away form if they are to make one of the Wild Card spots their own. They have a 26-29 record.
The Yankees stormed the first half of the season, but have been pegged back in a spectacular way, could Wednesday's walk-off win be the catalyst to re-ignite their regular season.