My days of staying up 'til the end of every game are much fewer and farther between than they used to be, but I didn't nod off once watching last night's game. That was awesome. Even if you weren't a fan of the Yankees or Blue Jays, you had to be entertained by that game. It had a little bit of everything - as in a ton of huge hits and big pitches by both sides - and the Yankees came out on the winning end to even the series thanks to their 22-year-old stud rookie first baseman.
But we'll start with their 21-year-old stud rookie starting pitcher, because he pitched a very nice game. The last time he faced the Blue Jays, Luis Severino got clobbered. He said he was throwing too much in that game and that he was going to "pitch" more in this game, and I'd say he did an excellent job of that. He wasn't perfect. Severino had a man on base in each of his final 4 innings and he got hurt by the walk and the long ball. But he located his fastball well to both sides of the plate and mixed in more changeups early to get outs on the ground, and when he needed to work out of trouble in the 5th and 6th, he did so by making great pitches with 2 outs and getting the strikeout. I'll take 2 earned runs in 6 innings against the best offense in baseball 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.
Those 2 runs came in the 3rd on a Kevin Pillar solo home run and the 4th on a Justin Smoak RBI single, and they represented the tying runs when Severino left after 7 innings. The Yankee offense jumped all over Toronto starter Marcos Estrada in the 1st inning, putting 2 runs on the board with a Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff a double, a 1-out walk, a Brian McCann RBI single, and a Carlos Beltran sac fly. Then they went into standby mode. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in the 2nd, Carlos Beltran singled with 2 outs in the 3rd, and they never got another hit off Estrada for the rest of his outing. Estrada retired 11 straight into the 7th and avoided trouble after 2 walks and a base hit when Liam Hendriks came on and struck out Alex Rodriguez.
That hurt, but the Yanks quickly recovered from that disappointment to seize the lead in the 8th. After Justin Wilson worked a 1-2-3 7th, Beltran came up to face the hard throwing Hendriks with 1 out. Hendriks pumped a 97 MPH fastball in for ball 1, tried to throw it again on the next pitch, and Beltran had it timed perfectly. He sent the ball over the right center field wall for a big time go-ahead home run and the Yankees were in good shape. Dellin Betances worked himself out of another self-made bases loaded jam by striking out Edwin Encarnacion in the 8th, and Andrew Miller would have the easier part of the lineup to deal with in the 9th.
Miller got even got the added benefit of turning around Justin Smoak and Dioner Navarro. He struck out Smoak swinging on the slider for the first out and tried to get a fastball for strike 1 against Navarro. Navarro was looking for it and he drove it on a line out to left for a game-tying home run. It was especially back-breaking after the Yankees failed to score with runners on second and third and no outs in the top half of the inning, and suddenly it was the Blue Jays who were in good shape heading to extras.
Then that great big, beautiful Bird stepped into the box in the 10th and made everything OK. Brian McCann's leadoff bunt single and Slade Heathcott's pinch hit catcher's interference on pinch runner Rico Noel's stolen base attempt (both true stories) put runners on for Bird and Bird worked a beautiful at-bat against righty Mark Lowe before uncorking a 3-run shot to right to make it 6-3 Yankees. Got down 0-2, took a few balls to even it up, saw 2 sliders earlier in the at-bat, recognized, stayed on, and drove a hanging slider on 2-2. Disney movie stuff.
Miller got sent back out for the 10th, probably because he already had a high pitch count and wouldn't be available tonight anyway. He got tagged for another solo home run to briefly breathe some life back into the Jays, but he gathered it up to strike out Smoak and get Navarro to fly out to end the game. Back within 2.5 games and feeling great after a win like that. Don't call off that division race just yet.
- The Yanks had 12 hits as a team. Ellsbury, Beltran, McCann, Bird, and Didi Gregorius had 11 of them.
- Loved McCann's surprise bunt hit against the shift even more the second time. Definitely seems like something he's been working on and finally feels comfortable enough to do. To borrow a line from Dallas Braden, if he's coming up to the plate with that bunt in his back pocket, that's something for the defense to think about now.
- So yeah, that top 9th shoe puking incident.
Didi Chris Young got thrown out at home trying to score a flyout to right. The ball wasn't hit deep and Jose Bautista has a terrific arm. I don't know whose call it was to send Didi on the catch and I don't care. It's a play that simply can't happen. Everybody on the field in a Yankee uniform in that situation needs to recognize it and not send the runner. Stupid baseball.
- That's 2 solid starts for Severino after the bad one against the Jays. I think he's going to be OK.
- Wilson only threw 7 pitches in a perfect 7th. Wouldn't be surprised to see him get some longer work today with Betances' fastball command still looking shaky and Miller unavailable.
- Chase Headley went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and looked pretty lost at the plate. He's 4-39 with 17 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
- Bird also doubled in the game and has homered in 3 straight games. He's 9-26 with 3 2B, 5 HR, and 4 BB in his last 7 games. I don't know if he can actually play another positions and I highly doubt he can play another one well, but the Yankees have to find a way to keep him around and get him at-bats next year. He's a pretty good Major League hitter already and he's only going to get better by continuing to face Major League pitching.