TORONTO — Jose Bautista hasn’t put up the numbers he had hoped for as he heads toward free agency in the offseason. Still, the Blue Jays slugger has one of baseball’s most dangerous bats.
Bautista hit a three-run homer off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning, and Toronto beat the fading New York Yankees 3-0 Saturday.
Josh Donaldson singled with two outs in the eighth off Clippard (3-5), advanced on a wild pitch, and Edwin Encarnacion walked. Clippard fell behind 2-0 in the count and Bautista sent a fastball over the left-field wall, delighting the crowd of 47,828.
“I was definitely looking for a heater in that situation, and I was lucky to make good contact,” Bautista said.
Bautista has hit at least 20 home runs in seven straight seasons. He has 16 career home runs that have given his team a lead in the eighth inning or later, including 14 with Toronto. Of his 20 homers this season, 14 put the Blue Jays ahead.
“It’s pretty obvious how big he is for us,” Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman said. “It seems like he always steps up in those key moments when we need him most.”
Bautista, who doubled in the first, has reached safely in 31 straight games.
“It looks like he’s heating up at the right time,” manager John Gibbons said.
Stroman gave up one hit in seven innings — Aaron Hicks’ single in the second.
“Stroman kept us in check,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “We just weren’t able to get anything going off him.”
Toronto leads Baltimore by 1½ games for the AL’s top wild card, with Detroit another half-game back.
New York has been shut out in three straight games for the first time July 27-28, 1975. The Yankees have been held scoreless an AL-worst 13 times this season, with six of those coming in September.
“Whatever we’re doing right now it’s not working,” Mark Teixeira said. “We just seem to have lost it the last few days.”
The Yankees haven’t scored since Donovan Solano’s two-run homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s win at Tampa Bay.
“You become disappointed when there’s a lack of effort,” Girardi said. “There’s no lack of effort. We had optional BP today and everybody hit, so there’s no lack of effort.”
The major league record for consecutive shutout losses is four. The last to do it was the Chicago Cubs from April 27 to May 1, 1992.
The Yankees, who have lost 10 of 13 following a seven-game winning streak and likely will miss the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Jason Grilli (7-5) allowed a two-out triple to Ronald Torreyes in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Billy Butler fouled off three straight pitches, then swung past a 94 mph fastball. Grilli pumped his hands twice, pounded his glove and pumped his hands again.
“I got a pitch I should have hit and fouled it off,” Butler said.
Roberto Osuna pitched a one-hit ninth for his 35th save in 38 chances, completing Toronto’s second straight three-hitter.
Bautista is the sixth Blue Jays player to reach the 20-homer plateau, the most since 2010. He joins Encarnacion (42), Donaldson (36), Michael Saunders (24), Troy Tulowitzki (24) and Russell Martin (20).
Yankees: 3B Chase Headley (back) and Teixeira (neck) were held out of the starting lineup. Headley went 0 for 7 Thursday and Friday after sitting out the previous three games. Teixeira entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
RHP Michael Pineda (6-11, 4.89) starts for New York in Sunday’s series finale and RHP Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.62) for Toronto. Pineda has failed to complete five innings in three of his past four outings and is winless in eight starts, matching a career-worst streak. Estrada snapped a three-start losing streak with seven shutout innings against Seattle last Monday.