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Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette hits a solo home run against New York Yankees in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre, Sep 29, 2021.Vaughn Ridley /Getty Images

In a game that oozed with all the delicious tension of fall baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 6-5 on Wednesday in the second game of their critical three-game set, keeping alive their chances at a spot in the American League wild card.

In a game that included a pair of homers from Bo Bichette, a solid outing from Jose Berrios, and a flurry of momentum changes, the Jays rebounded from a 7-2 loss on Tuesday to hold off the Yanks and remain in reach of the Boston Red Sox for the second AL wild card spot.

“This is what we dream of doing,” said Bichette, whose second homer of the night was the game winner. “These are the biggest games of my life.”

With four games left to play, the Jays (88-70) now sit two games back of the Yankees (90-68) for the first AL wild card spot, and one back of the Boston Red Sox (89-69) for the second spot. The Seattle Mariners (89-70) remained a half game in front of Toronto by beating the Oakland Athletics Wednesday, but only have three games left to play. The A’s are now eliminated from the wild card race.

For a second straight night, the excitement was back inside Toronto’s Rogers Centre, thanks to the Ontario government’s permission to increase fan capacity. Playing under an open roof, 29,601 were on hand as the Jays in powder blue uniforms set a tone of urgency immediately. The hometown love was everything the team envisioned earlier in their disjointed season when they were forced to play their home games outside Canada – first in Dunedin, then in Buffalo – before finally allowed back in Toronto

Berrios made tidy work of the first three Yankee hitters he faced– Dj LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge – all down to strikeouts. The Jays’ righty from Puerto Rico -- nicknamed La Makina in Spanish – operated precisely as that name translates – The Machine.

In their first at bat, the Jays unleased a dizzying flurry of offense, as if they’d hungered all day to avenge Tuesday’s loss – a night in which they mustered only three hits.

George Springer stepped into the first pitch he faced and smacked a double into left field. Then Marcus Semien cranked a two-run homer over the wall in left centre. Bo Bichette drilled one down the right field line and stretched it into a double with his speed.

Blue Jays fans, barely settled into their seats, were already on their feet and roaring into the darkening Toronto sky on an ideal fall night. George Springer added a third run with his RBI single in the second inning. Their team commanded a fast 3-0 lead.

The Jays’ turnaround from the night before was even more impressive since it was happening against New York starter Gerrit Cole, one of the hottest pitchers in the Majors. The Yankees right-handed ace is one of the frontrunners for the AL Cy Young Award -- alongside Toronto’s lefty Robbie Ray.

The Jays rattled Cole’s cage. Bichette connected on a Cole high fast ball and sent it over the right field fence in the third -- his 27th homer of the year. That energy seemed to transfer to BIchette’s fielding as well, as he patrolled the track at shortstop, scooping up line drives to help Berrios keep batters off base.

Berrios, working with Jays catcher Reece McGuire, turned away the first 14 batters before the Yankees finally got a hit. They got on the board in the fifth inning, scoring two runs on three straight hits to slash Toronto’s four-run lead to two.

While the Jays were on the wrong end of some weird luck in Tuesday’s game, they got a big break on Wednesday. A Springer pop-up to left field dropped between shortstop Gio Urshela and outfielder Joey Gallo, who seemed to miscommunicate. What could have been an easy out became a Jays double.

That prompted Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to smack a double down the left field line and bring Springer home, ending an 0-for-20 streak at the plate for the Jays superstar. Guerrero Jr. reacted with a huge fist pump and a holler, and the fans roared loudly with him.

Still, the Yankees kept threatening, filling the air with all the absorbing friction of a wild card race. Aaron Judge brought in a run on a sac fly. The Yanks got some weird luck too -- Gleyber Torres got on base by plopping a weird short hit on the third base side. Runners advanced after McGuire dropped a wild pitch from Tim Mayza after a strikeout. The Yankees brought those guys home, and tied the game.

Bichette answered by blasting the tie-splitting solo homerun at the bottom of the eighth, making the half-full Rogers Centre sound like a raucous packed house. Adam Cimder provided big moments of relief to quell New York’s offense. Markham’s own Jordan Romano closed it out on the mound for the Jays, leaving the Yanks’ tying run stranded at second.

The series finale between the Jays and Yankees will take place Thursday in Toronto. Corey Kluber will take the mound for the Yankees, while AL strikeout leader Robbie Ray (244) will start for the Jays.

Then the Jays will complete the regular season with a three-game series against the Orioles.

- With a report from Reuters

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