Giancarlo Stanton Aaron Judge
Bob DeChiara | USA TODAY Sports

An Aaron Judge walk-off home run and a five RBI day from Gleyber Torres later, the Yankees handled the Blue Jays again with a quick two-game sweep.

New York’s lead in the American League East has grown to four games over the Rays, while Toronto’s struggles have dropped them to third place and six games back. And to think they were practically coronated after a strong offseason.

The Yankees will now head to Chicago for four games against the banged-up White Sox, who are barely playing .500 ball this season. But they’ve also won seven of eight and are in a weak division, so they may be ready to take off.

Yankees (22-8) at White Sox (15-14)

Time: 8:10 p.m. ET Thursday & Friday; 7:10 p.m. ET Saturday; 2:10 p.m. ET Sunday

TV: YES on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday; Amazon Prime on Friday.

Probable pitching matchups (Yankees pitcher listed first)

  • Luis Gil (season debut) vs. Dylan Cease (3-1, 2.38 ERA)
  • Gerrit Cole (2-0, 2.67) vs. Vince Velasquez (2-2, 3.97)
  • Jordan Montgomery (0-1, 2.90) vs. Dallas Keuchel (2-3, 6.86)
  • Nestor Cortes (1-1, 1.41) vs. Michael Kopech (0-0, 0.93)

Worth watching: Gil is making a spot start to open the series. Fans will fondly remember him debuting last year to 15.2 consecutive scoreless innings. The young flamethrower has struggled at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year, posting an awful 9.53 ERA and 6.4 walks per nine innings through five starts. Yet, Gil’s velocity has carried him to 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings this year. The Yankees clearly believe in him. Maybe a short visit with pitching coach Matt Blake is all he needs to right things down on the farm, and to also turn in a strong start against the White Sox.

Key matchup: Former MVP Jose Abreu is off to a slow start, batting just .217 with three home runs. The good news for the White Sox is the 35-year-old is not only due for a hot streak, but it could happen this weekend. Abreu has hit .336 against the Yankees in his career, plus seven home runs and a .936 OPS. The White Sox need him to get going in this series.

X-factor: It’s been a rough month for Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He’s batting just .133 in May and could really use a strong showing in Chicago. Thankfully for Rizzo, his nine-and-a-half years with the crosstown rival Cubs mean he knows the White Sox well. Not only is he a .285 career hitter against them, but he’s hit .343 with an incredible 1.062 OPS at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Yankees might roll to yet another series win if Rizzo’s bat awakens on the South Side.

Final thoughts and prediction: And yet, even if the bats take a while to wake up, fortune once again favors the Yankees. Sure, the White Sox are running hot too, but they’re still the third-worst scoring team in baseball. Their pitchers own a 3.25 staff ERA, but the Yankees are locked, loaded, and ready to keep rolling. Gil’s control issues will be a shock to the system on Thursday, but will be a blip on the radar compared to the rest of the series. Yankees win three of four.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.