Bassitt shines in Blue Jays' shutout win over Yankees
TORONTO — Chris Bassitt never told Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider or pitching coach Pete Walker what his personal goal was for the year.
But when they sent him back out to the mound for the eighth inning on Thursday, Bassitt knew they also wanted him to reach 200 innings in a season for the first time in his career.
Bassitt struck out Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the final out of his 7 2/3 inning performance as the Blue Jays routed New York 6-0 on Thursday as Toronto took a step toward clinching a post-season berth. Bassitt (16-8) gave up five hits and a walk but struck out 12 to also reach a career high in wins.
Bassitt told reporters that he believes 200 innings is the benchmark for elite pitchers.
"Throw 160, I've done it. Throw 180, I've done it. But to get to 200 innings you have to have so many people who trust you," said Bassitt. "You have to have so much work behind the scenes that people don't see. It's been my only goal forever.
"So to get it, to have this organization believe in me like they do, it means the world to me."
The win gave the Blue Jays a one-game lead over the idle Houston Astros in the race for the American League's second wild card. It also gave Toronto a two-game lead over the Seattle Mariners, who rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Thursday night.
"I didn't try to chase 200 innings. I never tried to do that. I try to chase the post-season," said Bassitt, who signed a three-year, US$63 million deal with Toronto in December after his New York Mets lost in the National League's wild-card series. "Honestly, there's been a pain that I've held for well over a year just because of how last year ended for me.
"I just promised myself that I'm going to give the best chance I've got to whoever signs me, every single day. That's truly what I've done."
Brandon Belt smashed a three-run home run as Toronto (88-71) shook off a two-game scoring drought. Daulton Varsho and Matt Chapman both had home runs and Cavan Biggio added an RBI single as the Blue Jays racked up 13 hits.
"I think that that's something we can do more and more," said Belt of Toronto's offensive output. "We were able to pick it up today knowing that we're pretty close to getting into the playoffs.
"I think that's something that hopefully we'll see as we go through the playoffs."
Relievers Yimi Garcia and Tim Mayza preserved Bassitt's victory.
Luke Weaver (3-6) struck out six but gave up two runs on six hits over four innings as New York (81-78) had its three-game win streak snapped. Greg Weissert, Zach McAllister and Yoendrys Gómez came on in relief.
The Blue Jays finally broke their 20-inning scoring drought when Varsho led off the third with a home run. His 19th of the season flew 380 feet to deep right field.
Bassitt protected Toronto's narrow lead in the fourth, inducing a flyout by Austin Wells, then striking out Giancarlo Stanton and Oswaldo Cabrera.
Chapman rewarded Bassitt's fine pitching in the bottom of the fourth, keeping his 16th home run of the season inside the right-foul netting for a 2-0 Toronto lead.
The Blue Jays tacked on another run in the fifth. Bo Bichette singled and then stole second with two outs. Biggio's basehit dropped into shallow centre field with the all-star shortstop crossing the plate standing up.
Belt poured it on in the sixth. Varsho drew a one-out walk and then fellow outfielder George Springer singled. That brought Belt to the plate.
McAllister got two strikes on the veteran designated hitter, but Belt made no mistake on the third pitch. He launched a 92.2 m.p.h. sinker 409 feet to deep right field, giving the Blue Jays a commanding 6-0 lead.
Bassitt struck out Judge in the eighth with his 106th pitch of the night to reach the 200-inning milestone. The 36,657 fans at Rogers Centre gave him a standing ovation as he was pulled from the game after fanning Judge.
"I know a lot of people are talking about (Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr.), rightfully so, but I still think Aaron Judge is the best player on this planet," said Bassitt. "So to get that on him, it's going to mean a lot to me for the rest of my life, no doubt about it."
ON DECK — Schneider announced after the game that left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (10-6) would start on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Aaron Civale (7-4) will take the mound for Tampa Bay, who were guaranteed the top spot in the wild card after the Baltimore Orioles won the AL East title on Thursday with a 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.