YANKEES 4, BLUE JAYS 3
It was looking pretty bleak for the New York Yankees in the top of the eighth inning. They had played 30 innings in Toronto this weekend and scored a total of three runs.
The Yankees scored four runs and held on to defeat the Blue Jays 4-3 on Sunday to salvage an important game in the three-game series at Rogers Centre.
Derek Jeter stroked an RBI double to begin the comeback and — after a wild pitch scored another run — Robinson Cano blasted an opposite-field two-run double that sealed the victory for Javier Vazquez.
Vazquez (5-5) deserved the victory, too. He pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball until Vernon Wells followed a walk to Adam Lind with a two-run homer that looked to make the Blue Jays and their starter Brandon Morrow victorious.
But the Yankees rallied to overcome the 2-0 deficit to allow Vazquez to even his record. Vazquez walked four batters and struck out a season-high nine. He is now 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last four starts after beginning the season 1-4 with a 8.10 ERA.
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his 13th save of the season. Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs (1-5) took the loss.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 35-22 and they remain two games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The Blue Jays fell to 33-25 and they are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees and 4 1/2 games in back of Rays tied for third place with the Boston Red Sox.
- Vazquez is showing signs his early season numbers were an aberration and that this is the Vazquez who dominated hitters in the National League in 2009. Vazquez kept the Blue Jays off-balance by using his change-up as an out pitch and spotting his fastball. His only mistake was an 0-2 slider that stayed in the middle of the plate and allowed Vernon Wells to hit his 15th home run of the season with a man aboard.
- Cano was 0 for his past 12 at-bats to begin the day but ended up going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a single. His two-run double now give him 45 RBis on the season and he is tied with the Jays’ Jose Bautista for third in the American League in that category. He raised his batting average back to .363, which is second in the A.L.
- Jeter’s double followed back-to-back hit batters (Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner) uncorked by Morrow and Downs. Jeter’s double to right scored Cervelli and chased Downs from the game.
- Gardner continues to find a way to get on base. He was 1-for-2 with a triple, a walk and a hit by pitch. In the two games Gardner played in the series he reached base seven times in 10 plate appearances.
- Rivera looked sharp in recording his 13th save in 14 chances this season. He needed only five pitches to retire Wells, Bautista and Gonzalez, who have combined to hit 45 home runs this season.
- The Yankees struggled mightily against Morrow for the first seven innings. They managed only four hits and a walk and Morrow struck out eight batters. Leading the futility parade once again was Mark Teixiera, who was 1-for-14 in the series with seven strikeouts. He is batting an anemic .211 and it is looking like manager Joe Girardi may have to either rest him or move him down in the order.
- Nick Swisher was 0-for-5 in the game with three strikeouts but there is a caveat to that you will have to read about in Diamond Notes later in this post.
- Jeter redeemed himself with his RBI double in the eighth but he also struck out on a outside pitch that hit the dirt with Gardner at third and one out in the third inning.
- Curtis Granderson struck out swinging with Cano on second and two out in the second inning and struck out looking with two on and two out in the seventh inning.
Girardi was ejected from the game by home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman in the eighth inning after Dreckman had rung up Nick Swisher on a check-swing strikeout with nobody out and Gardner at third and Jeter at second. Replays CLEARLY show Swisher checked his swing and Girardi was upset that Dreckman made the call himself without checking with third-base umpire Gary Darling. . . . Dreckman may be one of the worst balls and strikes umpires I have ever seen work a major-league game. Pitches that clearly were within the TBS pitch tracker were called — for both sides — balls. Dreckman did not give a consistent high strike and never gave a pitcher any pitches at the knees. But at the same time, pitches a foot inside or outside were often called strikes. In the ninth inning Swisher was called out on strikes by Dreckman on a pitch that was so inside the pitch nearly clipped his jersey above the belt. Swisher just smiled and walked away. In the top of the ninth two pitches clearly in the strike zone to Gardner thrown by rookie reliever Rommie Lewis were called balls and Gardner walked. Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina turned around to stare at Dreckman on the last pitch that was over the plate and above the knees. Was it any wonder the two teams combined for 21 strikeouts? With Dreckman’s odd and loose interpretation of the strike zone I believe I might have struck out six batters myself. . . . Rivera was left a bit embarrassed in the bttom of the eighth inning when he came in from the bullpen to relieve Vazquez only to find out that Tony Pena, who was managing in place of Girardi, had wanted Damaso Marte instead. Marte struck out Adam Lind swinging to end the inning. . . . Alex Rodriguez left the game after eight innings with tightness in his right groin. Rodriguez blamed having to play 14 innings on the artificial turf on Saturday. He said he felt tightness before the game and it got steadily worse as the game progressed. Rodriguez said the injury was minor and he would be ready to play on Tuesday.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees will have a much-needed day off on Monday. It is their first off-day since May 24. The Yankees will play the hapless Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Phil Hughes (7-1, 2.54 ERA) is coming off an effort of total domination of the Orioles last Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. He gave up only one run on six hits in seven innings. He has pitched at least seven innings in five of his past seven starts. This will be the third time this season that Hughes has faced the Orioles. He is 1-0 and has given up two runs on eight hits in 12 2/3 innings.
Hughes will face hard-luck right-hander Kevin Millwood (0-6, 4.29 ERA). Millwood is coming off his worst start of the season last Tuesday against the Yankees. He gave up six runs on 10 hits and four walks in just 5 2/3 innings. Millwood is 2-5 with a 5.15 ERA in 11 starts against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by MY9.