The Yankees enjoyed a wonderful afternoon in Toronto walking away with a smooth and seemingly easy and relaxed 7-0 win that included an eighth inning that should be savored and remembered forever. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's focus on all the highlights and save that eighth inning for later in the post.
The Mighty Jordan - Jordan Montgomery demonstrated today why he belongs in the big leagues as he hopefully put some of the talk of sending him down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre away for quite some time. Montgomery pitched six quality innings of shutout ball. When he seemed to bend a little, he was able to find that little something to get him out of a potential jam. In total, Montgomery allowed three hits (all singles) and three walks over his six full innings of work. He also struck out five batters including the always dangerous Jose Bautista twice!
A quick inning-by-inning breakdown of Jordan Montgomery's efforts shows how in control he was:
FIRST INNING - Retired the side in order - aided by a diving grab by...Aaron Judge (the man does everything).
SECOND INNING - After striking out Kendrys Morales, Montgomery walked the next two batters (Justin Smoak and Troy Tulowitzki). The threat passed as the following two batters (Devon Travis and Darwin Barney) flew out harmlessly.
THIRD INNING - Kevin Pillar led off with a single. Montgomery then retired three dangerous hitters in a row in the following manner - Josh Donaldson (pop out to the catcher), Jose Bautista (strikeout), Kendrys Morales (strikeout).
FOURTH INNING - Retired the side in order
FIFTH INNING - Catcher Mike Maile had a one-out single (Maile had two of the three hits off Montgomery), and with two outs, Josh Donaldson walked. This set up a big at-bat for Jose Bautista the Official Yankee Killer. This was a big spot in the game as the Yankees were nursing a slight 2-0 lead. Bautista hit the ball hard, but right at Chase Headley who fielded it cleanly on a hop and recorded the force out at third base.. Inning over.
SIXTH INNING - Retired the side in order.
At 100 pitches after six innings, Montgomery's day was over. He turned the game over to the bullpen, but soon, the Yankees would build a lead that almost anyone would have been able to hold...
Scoring On Doubles - The Yankees scored their initial runs in the top of the third. Their first break came when, with one out, Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki misplayed a Rob Refsnyder ground ball. Refsnyder then stole second and proceeded to third on a long fly out by Brett Gardner. Aaron Hicks then followed with a bloop double that scored Refsnyder. Aaron Judge then hit an absolute rocket to center field that Kevin Pillar couldn't read correctly that became another run-scoring double.
The Yankees maintained that 2-0 through Montgomery's six innings.
In the top of the seventh, Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorious hit back-to-back doubles to plate the Yankees' third run. They would go back-to-back in an even better way soon.
The First Bullpen Zeroes - Adam Warren pitched an efficient seventh inning allowing one walk and striking out two batters.
The Eighth Inning Was More Than a Blast - And then came the inning to remember... Brett Gardner started the fun with a lead-off homer. The Aarons (Hicks and Judge) were then both retired. Matt Holiday then came up, and hit a home run. Starlin Castro followed by also hitting a home run. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Didi Gregorius hit a home run of his own for the first Yankee Back-to-Back-to-Back homers since June 8, 2012. (On that day Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andrew Jones completed the trifecta.
Other Bullpen Zeroes - Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect eighth inning and Dellin Betances pitched the ninth, walking one batter, and striking out one as well.
All of this came together for a very enjoyable 7-0 Yankees win.
Joe Biagini, the starting pitcher for the Blue Jays, has an interesting off-season routine where he pitches to (at?) Big Bird from Sesame Street. You can read about that (and more) in this interview.
Going into the game, the Yankees outfield had the best production in all of baseball in the following offensive categories: Home Runs (39), Runs Batted In (107), Runs Scored (121), and On Base Percentage (.398). They added to those totals today.
In all of Yankees history, this was only the fourth time the team hit four home runs in one inning. The other times:
1977 (at Toronto) - Cliff Johnson, Lou Piniella, Thurman Munson, and Cliff Johnson (again)
2005 (vs Tampa Bay in NY) - Jorge Posada, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui
2012 (vs Boston in NY) - Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, and Mark Teixeira