If you would have told me that the Yankees would fail to sweep a 3-game series all season and then finally do it in early September against the Blue Jays on a night in which they had Bryan Mitchell starting and no Betances or Warren in the bullpen, I would have asked for your drug dealer's phone number. But that's exactly what went down last night as the Yankees continued to shrink their Wild Card deficit and make the AL East the most interesting division race in baseball.
Bryan Mitchell's last big league appearance was on October 4th, 2015. He's missed all of this season with a toe injury suffered in ST, but you wouldn't have known it by watching him work last night. Mitchell tossed 5 scoreless innings against the potent Toronto lineup in his first game off the DL and I was pretty impressed but how he did it. His curveball command wasn't great, so he was mostly mixing fastballs and dotting the corners for strikes. Whenever he got himself into trouble, like when he walked the first 2 batters of the 3rd inning, he got out of it by making great pitches in spots where hitters couldn't do anything with them and forcing weak contact. A big double play ball also helped ease the stress of the 3rd.
The Yankee offensive output wasn't much to speak of against Marcus Stroman, but they made it count when they got a rally going with 2 outs in the bottom of the 3rd. It started innocently enough with a Starlin Castro solo homer on a hanging 1-1 slider, but that missed pitch clearly rattled Stroman a bit and it showed on the next few batters. Didi Gregorius doubled down the left field line to keep things moving, Mark Teixeira drew a 7-pitch walk after going down 0-2, and Brian McCann singled to right to bring in Didi for the extra insurance. The Yankee bats came through when the Blue Jays couldn't, and that made the difference.
No Warren, no Dellin, no problem. Luis Severino was the 1-man bridge to the 9th inning with 3 scoreless innings of work behind Mitchell. He walked 1, struck out 3, and looked much better than he has as a starter. Tyler Clippard was closer for the night and he kept up his long line of good work since coming back with a perfect 2-K inning. The brooms are out and the WC deficit is down to 2.5 again. Here come the damn Yankees.
- That 3rd inning was the only time the Yanks could get anything going. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury each went 2-4 but never scored a run.
- They struck out 12 times as a team and left 9 on base. But you can get by with that when your staff puts up zeros across the board.
- Mitchell's cutter had some really nice movement on it last night. That's the pitch that's going to be the difference maker for him, whether he's a starter or a reliever.
- Severino has been dominant as a reliever. 6 appearances, 51 batters faced, 2 hits, 17 strikeouts. The fact that he's done it in long relief makes me think he can figure things out as a starter at the big league level, and he should be given every chance to do so next year. But if that doesn't work out, he looks like he could be a big time weapon as a Betances-like multi-inning reliever.