TORONTO — One playoff avenue closed for the New York Yankees. Their second may soon slide shut, as well.
Francisco Liriano and three relievers combined on a three-hitter, Troy Tulowitzki had four RBIs and the Toronto Blue Jays routed the Yankees 9-0 Friday night to maintain a one-game lead in the AL wild-card standings.
New York lost for the ninth time in 12 games, following a seven-game winning streak, and was eliminated from contention in the AL East.
The Yankees are four games behind Detroit for the second wild care with nine games left.
“Things are kind of slipping away at this point,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “We’re not out of it, but we’re definitely not in a good position.”
Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and Edwin Encarnacion got his 124th RBI, tied with Boston’s David Ortiz for the AL lead, as the Blue Jays won their sixth straight home game over New York.
Toronto has won five of eight after going 3-9 starting September.
Gary Sanchez had two hits for the Yankees, who were shut out for the second straight night and the fifth time this month. New York has gone 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position in their last two games and stranded 17 runners.
“It’s not what you want,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s frustrating.”
Girardi’s frustration was plainly evident. He cut short his postgame media session and angrily walked out of his office following a question about bullpen usage.
Liriano (8-13) escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Chase Headley to end a 27-pitch first inning, then left runners at the corners after the first two batters reached in the third. That was the start of a stretch that saw the left-hander retire nine straight.
Liriano allowed three hits, walked two and struck out six for his second win with Toronto.
“Liriano was was really, really good,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got one of the better arms in baseball.”
Reliever Joaquin Benoit walked Aaron Hicks to begin the seventh but pinch-hitter Brian McCann grounded into a double play. Brett Cecil worked the eighth and Danny Barnes finished.
Tulowitzki opened the scoring with a two-out, bases-loaded single off Bryan Mitchell (1-2) in the first and Encarnacion made it 3-0 with a bases-loaded walk in the second.
Mitchell allowed three runs — one earned — and six hits in six innings.
Jose Bautista hit a two-run double off Blake Parker in the seventh and Tulowitzki added a second two-run single.
Donaldson homered off Ben Heller in the eighth, his 36th.
Girardi said he has not decided who will start in place of RHP Masahiro Tanaka (strained forearm) in Monday’s series finale. Tanaka leads the American League with a 3.07 ERA.
HAL AND THE BABY BOMBERS
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner watched some of New York’s top prospects work out Friday at instructional league in Tampa, Florida. Steinbrenner also looked at the on-going multi-million renovation project at the Yankees’ minor league complex, which includes new indoor hitting and pitching cages, and clubhouse improvements.
The updated list of Yankees set to play in the Arizona Fall League are RHPs Dillon Tate, Brody Koerner and J.P. Feyereisen, INFs Greg Bird, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, and OF Tyler Wade.
Yankees: 2B Starlin Castro (right hamstring) hit in the cage before the game and plans to run on the field Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi said he does not expect Castro to return during the series against Toronto.
New York LHP CC Sabathia (8-12, 4.19) faces RHP Marcus Stroman (9-9, 4.50) Saturday. Sabathia, who will start on five days’ rest, is 3-8 with a 5.49 ERA in his past 17 starts. Stroman has lost his past four starts and is winless since Aug. 14.