David Phelps started the nightcap for the Yankees and pitched very well. For the second time in a row, he pitched to Chris Stewart as his catcher and in those two starts has pitched a total of twelve innings while only allowing two runs. Tonight, he pitched six and a two-thirds innings and allowed only three hits. He also walked three and struck out six. The only run he allowed was in the second inning. With one out, Phelps walked J.P. Arencibia, which is pretty darned hard to do as the Blue Jays’ catcher had only walked fourteen times all season prior to that plate appearances. Phelps then walked Kelly Johnson. Phelps had a chance to escape the inning as he struck out Yan Gomes for the second out, but Adeiny Hechavarria singled to drive in Arencibia.
Phelps would not get into trouble again until the seventh inning. With one out, Derek Jeter made a poor throw to first on a grounder by Arencibia. Phelps then got Johnson to fly out for the second out. But Gomes singled and Hechavarria walked to load the bases and Joe Girardi came out and took Phelps out of the game. Boone Logan ended the threat by retiring Moises Sierra.
To be sure, the Yankees did not face a very good lineup in either game. Edwin Encarnacion did not play, Jose Bautista has been out. Even so, it was an encouraging night for the pitching staff. The bullpen has looked weak at times lately and with the exception of a bad outing by David Robertson in the first game of the double-header, the Yankees’ bullpen was rock solid today. Logan, Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano combined for two and a third innings of perfect relief and struck out four batters between them.
Ricky Romero started the game for the Blue Jays after struggling for months. His only decent start in the past two months also came against the Yankees. He was not real sharp tonight as he walked five batters and allowed seven hits. But he only allowed one run in his six innings of work.
That one run came in the second inning. With one out, Jayson Nix walked and stole second. Nix started the game at second base with Robinson Cano given a DH day. Casey McGehee walked and then Ichiro singled to center. Cody Rasmus made a nice play on the ball and threw Nix out at home. Chris Stewart came through with a big two-out ground rule double to left to score McGehee. Romero struck out Jeter to end the inning.
Despite all the base runners, the Yankees could not push across another run against Romero. Steve Delabar relieved Romero in the seventh and mowed the Yankees down in order, two via strikeout. But Delabar would give up the go ahead runner in the eighth. It was a walk to Curtis Granderson. Jayson Nix sacrificed Granderson to second. Aaron Loup relieved Delabar to pitch to Raul Ibanez, who pinch hit for McGehee. With the lefty, Loup, in the game. Girardi pulled Ibanez and sent Steve Pearce to the plate. That did not work out as Pearce struck out. But during the at bat, Granderson stole third. For the second time in the game, the Yankees scored with a two-out hit as Ichiro singled. Brandon Lyon replaced Loup and walked Chris Stewart. Ichiro and Stewart then pulled off a double steal and Lyon walked Jeter to load the bases. Nick Swisher left them all there and struck out swinging.
On the one negative note, the Yankees struck out nine times in the nightcap and stranded twelve runners in the game.
Notes: Rafael Soriano now has 42 saves. Cody Eppley picked up the win. Derek Jeter reached the 200-hit plateau for the season for the eighth time in his career. The Yankees stole seven bases in the game, four of them by Ichiro. The Yankees are 22 games over .500 and reached that mark for the first time since August 18. Alex Rodriguez had a dreadful day at the plate as he went 0-7 in the double-header with four strikeouts and a GIDP.