A week ago, the New York Yankees took the field in Buffalo against the Toronto Blue Jays feeling frustrated and disappointed about being a .500 team.
Fast forward nine days and the red-hot Yankees look to match a season high with their seventh straight win Wednesday night when they host Toronto at Yankee Stadium.
New York (27-21) is a half-game ahead of Toronto (26-21) in second place in the American League East and as the fifth seed in the expanded postseason field. The Yankees opened the series with a 20-6 rout Tuesday and during their second-longest winning streak of the season, they are outscoring opponents 48-11.
"No, no, never," Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters when asked if he ever lost confidence in his players during a 5-15 slide from Aug. 18-Sept. 8. "Obviously, you're frustrated. It makes for some sleepless nights but no never losing belief in these guys and now as we get more and more guys healthy and in the mix, I know we're capable of amazing things and hopefully, we're going to find that out."
On Tuesday Luke Voit homered twice to take over the major league lead with 18 while DJ LeMahieu had four hits and drove in five runs to raise his average to .363. Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks also homered on a night when Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela returned from the injured list. Aaron Judge could return from a strained right calf in the next day or two, as well.
"A couple of weeks ago, I don't think teams were scared of us," Voit said. "Now we're back to being the Bronx Bombers."
The Yankees also got a strong outing from rookie Deivi Garcia, giving them a 2.18 ERA from their starters in their last 10 games. One of those outings was a dominant two-hitter by Gerrit Cole (5-3, 3.20 ERA) in the second game of Friday's doubleheader against Baltimore.
Cole will take the mound in search of his 100th career win five days after turning in his fourth career complete game. He halted a three-game losing streak Friday by getting nine strikeouts and can become the 38th pitcher all-time and fourth since 2000 to reach 100 victories within his first 203 appearances, joining Justin Verlander, Roy Oswalt, and Mark Mulder.
"I liked the aggressiveness, I liked the focus, I liked the intent on a lot of the pitches and the creativeness as well," Cole said of his two-hitter.
Cole is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts against the Blue Jays.
Toronto is coming off the fourth instance of allowing 20 runs in team history and while the Blue Jays are 19-10 in their last 29 games, they have been outscored 45-9 in their last three defeats.
The Blue Jays allowed six unearned runs in the second inning and continued to struggle defensively after right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a fly ball by Frazier in the second inning that set up a seven-run inning.
"When you face good lineups and you don't throw strikes and you pitch behind in the count, that's also going to happen, games like this," Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said of the recent blowouts.
Toronto also was forced to cover 6 1/3 innings with its bullpen, including infielder Santiago Espinal, and will likely make at least one move to add a reliever before Tanner Roark (2-1, 5.60) takes the mound Wednesday.
Roark has yet to pitch more than five innings this season and faced the Yankees last Wednesday when he allowed two runs on two hits in four innings. Roark was lifted after facing 17 hitters and throwing 68 pitches and was annoyed at coming out.
"I felt like I got taken out too early," Roark said. "I'm what you'd call a diesel engine. Start off slow and get better as you go on. They signed me here to not go three or four innings and throw a certain amount of pitches"
Roark is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees.