By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Bryan Mitchell earned his first major league win, combining with Luis Severino and Tyler Clippard to shut down the dangerous Toronto Blue Jays, and the New York Yankees kept up their surprising surge with a 2-0 victory Wednesday night that completed a three-game sweep.
Starlin Castro homered and Brian McCann had an RBI single for the Yankees, who have won four straight and 10 of 14. They closed within 2 1/2 games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card and are 3 1/2 behind skidding Toronto, which began the night tied with Boston atop the AL East.
The Red Sox started later in San Diego. The Orioles lost 7-6 at Tampa Bay.
Marcus Stroman (9-7) struck out eight in five innings but the Blue Jays lost for the fifth time in six games. They were swept for the third time this season, first since May 16-18 by Tampa Bay.
Toronto’s power-packed lineup has been blanked six times this year, three by the Yankees.
Making an unexpected run at the playoffs after trading several veteran stars for prospects this summer, the youth-infused Yankees (73-65) climbed a season-best eight games above .500. They were finally able to finish off a sweep, too.
The Yankees had lost each of their previous seven games with a chance to complete a series sweep of at least three games and were 2-9 in those situations this season before wiping out the Blue Jays.
It was New York’s first sweep of a division foe since July last year against Baltimore, and its first of the Blue Jays since June 2014, also at Yankee Stadium.
Mitchell (1-0) yielded four hits over five-plus innings in his fourth career start and first major league outing this year.The 25-year-old right-hander pitched in place of injured rookie Chad Green.
Mitchell was promoted Tuesday from Triple-A after missing much of the season because of a broken left toe sustained late in spring training. He entered 0-3 in the majors, pitching mostly in relief for New York over the past two years.
A leadoff double by Devon Travis in the sixth ended Mitchell’s night, but Severino tossed three scoreless innings.
Clippard, serving as the fill-in closer with Dellin Betances and Adam Warren getting a rest, struck out two in a perfect ninth for the save. His only other save this season came with Arizona before he was traded back to New York.
Clippard became the AL-high eighth pitcher to earn a save for the Yankees this year, matching a franchise record.
SEEKING A SPARK
Looking to shake some things up, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons moved DH Jose Bautista into the cleanup spot and batted Travis leadoff. Gibbons said he was hoping to get Bautista more RBI opportunities.
Blue Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano (back) was unavailable.
Yankees: Rookie catcher Gary Sanchez was given the night off in favor of Austin Romine. RF Aaron Judge also was rested before entering on defense in the seventh. Sanchez and Judge will be back in the starting lineup Thursday, manager Joe Girardi said. … Green was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Sept. 3, with a right forearm tendon injury. General manager Brian Cashman had said Green is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Blue Jays: Following an off day, Toronto begins a pivotal, three-game series Friday night at home against Boston. RHP Marco Estrada (8-7, 3.56 ERA) starts the opener for the Blue Jays against Rick Porcello (19-3, 3.23), the major league leader in wins.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (8-12, 4.20) pitches Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series against last-place Tampa Bay. New York was shut out by Baltimore in both of his last two outings. Rays RHP Alex Cobb (0-0) makes his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery. Cobb allowed two runs over five innings last Friday against Toronto, his first major league appearance since Sept 28, 2014.
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