YANKEES 11, BLUE JAYS 5
The loud noise you heard erupting from the Rogers Center in Toronto was not a military exercise or atmospheric anomaly. It was the Yankees re-emerging as the Bronx Bombers unleashing home runs on the Blue Jays.
After a barrage of 17 hits, five home runs and 11 runs, the Yankees had turned the tables on the American League home run leader Jose Bautista and the major league home run-leading Blue Jays.
The Yankee hitters began the evening as if they were kids celebrating a birthday and the pitches of Blue Jays starter Marc Rzepczynski (1-2) were their personal pinatas. Led by Mark Teixeira, who homered to the second deck in left with out in the third inning, the Yankees ended up hitting three home runs in that frame alone to chase Rzepczynski after bashing him for six runs on eight hits and and two walks.
They added two more home runs in the fifth inning off reliever Brian Tallet to make it a laugher at 10-1.
Teixeira led the way with a 4-for-5 night, including his 28th home run of the season and two RBIs, which now gives him 91 on the season.
Not to be outdone was Jorge Posada, who blasted his third home run in his last four games. He followed Marcus Thames’ two-run home run in the third inning with his 16th homer of the season. He also ended up with a 4-for-5 night and two RBIs.
Curtis Granderson added to the assault with a three-run homer off Tallet in the fifth inning to make it 9-1. Jeter followed two batters later with his 10th of the season and he now has hit at least 10 home runs in each of his 16 seasons in the major leagues.
The beneficiary of all the run support was Dustin Moseley (4-2), who gave up two runs on five hits and four walks over six innings to tame Bautista and the Blue Jays. Though they lead the major leagues with 190 home runs this season, Moseley kept the Blue Jays in the yard after Bautista ripped two blasts on Monday and he showboated by watching them and taking his time running them out.
None of the Yankees needed to provide any theatrics to drive home the point that the Yankees are likely headed to the playoffs while the Blue Jays are doomed to go home empty handed — again.
With the victory the Yankees got back to 30 games over .500 at 78-48 and they maintained their tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in the American League East. The M*A*S*H unit that is the Boston Red Sox fell a half-game back to six games out because their game with Seattle was postponed due to rain.
- On June 30, Teixeira was hitting .231 and Yankee fans were not happy with the production from the their first baseman. But after going 4-for-5, Teixeira raised his average to .262. With 28 home runs and 91 RBIs, he also seems a lock to record his seventh consecutive season of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
- After struggling at the plate since he was activated from the disabled list on June 2, Posada appears to be heating up during the pennant push. He has a modest five-game hitting streak in which he is 8-for-20 (.400) with three home runs and six RBIs.
- With Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, Marcus Thames is turning into a nice contributor as a right-handed batter. Thames was 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs and he also scored two runs. He is also ripping left-handers. He is 27-for-79 (.342) with two home runs and seven RBIs against them this season. He is hitting .313 with five home runs and 19 RBIs overall.
- Granderson connected for only his second home run against a left-hander this season with his three-run shot off Tallet in the fifth inning. He has 14 home runs and 41 RBIs on the season. Granderson also sparkled in the field with a tremendous throw on a two-out, bases-loaded single by John Buck in the bottom of the sixth. His one-hop throw to Posada cut down Adam Lind trying to score and ended a big threat by the Jays to get back into the game.
- Despite the 17 hits, two Yankee starters took the collar. Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored and Austin Kearns did the same. Kearns’ 11-game hitting streak in which he was 14-for-35 (.400) came to an end.
- Moseley was either too cautious or he got tired after pitching a one-hitter for the first three innings. He walked the leadoff batters in each of the next three innings and ended up with the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings. A grand slam in either inning would have allowed the Jays to get back into the game.
- Chad Gaudin, fresh off his great back-to-back stints of long relief totaling five innings, struggled mightily in his two innings of mop-up work on Tuesday. He was tagged for three hits and he walked two in giving up three runs in two innings.
Nick Swisher was forced to leave the game — literally — by manager Joe Girardi after he fouled a pitch off his left knee in the seventh inning. Swisher originally fouled off a 1-2 pitch by Craig Janssen off his knee but stayed in to continue his at-bat. But after fouling a second pitch off his left foot Girardi went out and ordered Swisher to leave the game. Brett Gardner took over the at-bat and struck out looking. Swisher said he hopes to play Wednesday. The Yankees will re-evaluate his knee before the game. . . . Javier Vazquez has been moved to the bullpen for now. Because of the encouraging debut of Ivan Nova on Monday, Girardi has decided to give the 23-year-old rookie another start, in place of Vazquez on Sunday. Vazquez is 0-2 with a 8.10 ERA in four starts in August. He will be available in the bullpen starting on Wednesday.
The Yankees will try to win the rubber game of the three-game series with Toronto on Wednesday. The Yankees will try to do it with their All-Star right-hander Phil Hughes.
Hughes (15-5, 3.90 ERA) came off an excellent outing against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday in which he gave up a run on four hits in six innings and fanned six batters. Hughes retired the last 11 Tigers he faced. He is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in his career against the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays will counter with right-hander Brett Cecil (10-6, 3.90 ERA). Cecil notched his first career victory against the Red Sox on Friday, limiting Boston to two runs in 6 2/3 innings at Fenway. He struck six and walked three. Cecil is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA against the Yankees lifetime.
Gametime will be 7:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 2
Robinson Cano was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and A.J. Burnett pitched into the fifth inning as the New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Thursday in Dunedin, FL.
Burnett (2-1) gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings for the victory. Minor-league reliever Lance Pendleton fanned two batters in a perefct ninth inning to earn a save. Left-hander Brian Tallet (3-2) took the loss for the Jays.
The Yankees’ spring ledger improved to 13-15 while the Blue Jays slipped to 11-13-1.
The Yankees officially announced that Curtis Granderson will start the season in center-field and Brett Gardner will start in left-field. This was contrary to scouts who said Gardner was the better center-fielder. But manager Joe Girardi said that Randy Winn would get plenty of at-bats as the fourth outfielder and he did not want to keep moving Granderson from left to center when Winn played. . . . Teixeira played Thursday with a protective guard on his swollen right elbow. He wore it on the suggestion of assistant trainer Steve Donohue but he hopes to be able to not have to use it because he feels it restricts his swing. . . . The Yankees are crossing their fingers that Alfredo Aceves (sore back) will be able to pitch an inning on Friday. Girardi told reporters that if Aceves pitched he should be able to head north with the team. If not, he might be placed on the 15-day disabled list. . . . If Aceves is placed on the disabled list it would mean that left-hander Boone Logan would make the team. Logan and Royce Ring have competed for the second left-hander role all spring and both have pitched well. However, Aceves and Sergio Mitre won the last two spots and both Ring and Logan have options remaining to the minor leagues. . . . Posada hopes to play on Friday despite a stiff neck that prevented him from swinging the bat right-handed. . . . The game Thursday in Dunedin was the Yankees’ final road game of the spring.
THE NEXT GAME
This will be the last home game and the last official game of the spring for the Yankees. They will host the Baltimore Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The Yankees are scheduled to start Andy Pettitte, who has had three of his starts washed out this spring. Alfredo Simon is scheduled to pitch for the Orioles.
Game-time is 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game is scheduled to be telecast by the YES Network and by ESPN.
YANKEES 4, BLUE JAYS 2
Whatever Roy Halladay must have taught A.J. Burnett about pitching he must be regretting it now.
Burnett, who left the Toronto Blue Jays after last season to sign a lucrative five-year deal with the New York Yankees, pitched seven dominant innings as the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 4-2 on Friday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett gave up only six hits, two runs and two walks in leading the Yankees to their eighth victory in nine games. Burnett also fanned seven batters. Since a horrible start against the Boston Red Sox on June 9 where he gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings, Burnett has given up only three earned runs in his last 27 1/3 innings.
“He’s throwing a lot of fastballs in and he’s aggressive,” catcher Francisco Cervelli told MLB.com. “It’s strike one, and that’s it. It’s simple when you hit 96.”
Burnett (7-4) got support from solo home runs from Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez to win his third game in his last four decisions.
Cano blasted the first pitch from lefty Brian Tallet (5-6) in the second inning into the Yankees bullpen in rightfield to give Burnett a 1-0 lead. The home run was the 13th of the season and it broke a 12-game stretch where Cano had not driven in a run.
“[The home run] feels good, but I’ve still got to get better with men on base,” Cano said to MLB.com. “That’s something I don’t want to go through, but this is the game.”
Burnett lost the lead in the fourth inning when Lyle Overbay drove a 1-0 pitch into the gap in left-center. A wild pitch got him third. With one out Alex Rios ripped a first-pitch fastball up the middle to score Overbay.
The Yankees reached Tallet for two runs in the fifth inning without the benefit of a ball making it out of the infield. Tallet walked Brett Gardner. Worried Gardner might steal second base, Tallet also walked Derek Jeter. Johnny Damon then laid down a drag bunt that Tallet fielded but he threw weakly to first base and Damon beat it for a single.
The Yankees were primed for a big inning, however, it was not as big an inning as it could have been because Cano and Rodrigiuez failed to deliver big hits.
Tallet walked Teixeira to allow Gardner to score. Damon later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1. But Tallet induced Rodriguez and Cano to hit weak grounders to the infield where Jeter and Teixeira were cut down at the plate.
Replays later showed Teixeira had got his hand on the plate before Jays catcher Raul Chavez tagged him on the chest. But home plate umpire John Hirschbeck missed the call and Teixeira was called out.
“That had the makings of a four- or five-run inning,” Rodriguez said. “Give him (Tallet) credit, but we didn’t quite get the job done.”
After two outs in the sixth inning and with an 0-2 count on Vernon Wells, Burnett made his only significant mistake of the game. He left a fastball up and Wells launched it into the leftfield stands for his 10th home run of the season and the 21st of his career against the Yankees.
For the second straight game where the Yankees have held a lead entering the eighth inning, Girardi did not summon Brian Bruney. Instead he used Phil Coke to retire lefty Adam Lind on a fly ball to left. Giradi then used Phil Hughes to get the final two puts.
After Hughes gave up a opposite field single to Scott Rolen he retired Overbay and Wells on weak grounders to end the inning.
“It really doesn’t make a difference to me,” Hughes said to MLB.com. “I’m going in to get outs, whether it’s the fourth inning or the eighth inning. Basically, we’re bridging the gap between the starter and Mariano. Someone has to pitch the eighth, and any one of us can do that.”
Rodriguez provided an insurance run in the eight inning with a line drive shot to rightfield, his 14th homer of the season and his fifth in his last eight games.
“It feels pretty good,” Rodriguez said to MLB.com. “I like when I hit the ball to right-center and hit the ball in the air. The key for me is to try to stay aggressive.”
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts to preserve the victory for his 21st save in 22 chances. It was No. 503 of his career. He has saved the Yankees last four victories.
The Yankees victory, coupled with the Boston Red Sox 7-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners in 11 innings Friday night, brought the Yankees to within 2 1/2 games of the Bosox in the American League East.
Now that the pupil Burnett has taken his lessons and beaten his former team, the teacher Halladay will get a chance to even the score. The Jays will send Halladay (10-2, 2.56 ERA) to the mound Saturday afternoon. He will face Chien-Ming Wang (1-6, 10.06 ERA), who won his first game of the season in his last start.
Halladay lost his last start, his first since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a mild right groin strain. Halladay is 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA in his career against the Yankees. He also beat Burnett and the Yankees 5-1 on May 12 in a complete game.
Gametime is 1:05 p.m. EDT.
NOTES . . . Jorge Posada missed a second straight start with a bruised left thumb. He is still listed as day-to-day . . . Meanwhile backup catcher Jorge Molina, rehabbing a severely strained quad muscle, is in Scranton-Wilkes Barre and he may return to the team early next week. The Yankees will either have carry three catchers or send Cervelli back to Triple A . . . The Yankees will honor Lou Gehrig in ceremonies before Saturday’s game. It is the 70th anniversary of his famous “Luckiest Man” speech.