Apparently, the Yankees have won 15 straight home games against Toronto since September 19, 2012. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you probably know how much that makes me happy. For me, Toronto is almost worst than Boston as an odd sort of rivalry. So any time, the Yankees win it’s great, but a win against a team I’m not particularly fond of is spectacular.
So Chase Whitley earned his third win of his career (and this season) with a good performance again — 95 pitches through 5 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, and striking out 2 Toronto batters. Those 2 runs came in the 4th inning, with back-t0-back RBI singles. It was easily his roughest inning, but still he was able to keep things under control.
Adam Warren pitched the 6th and 7th innings flawlessly before Jose Ramirez came on in the 8th inning. He only got to pitch to a couple of batters because he gave up back-to-back doubles and a run scored. So the Yankees brought out the big guns. Yes, it was Dellin Betances to the rescue to pitch the 8th inning, followed by David Robertson in the 9th. Even though it wasn’t a save opportunity, the Yankees were wanting the win guarantee more than a rested bullpen.
In the mean time, the Yankees started hitting and scoring runs. Gardner on base with a lead-off single in the 1st, he would advance progressively around the bases and then scored on Alfonso Soriano’s single to give the Yankees an early lead.
But then with Toronto leading 2-1 in the 4th, the Brian McCann RBI machine was flipped with a 2-run home run, scoring Beltran in the process, and pushing the Yankees ahead 3-2. And then in the 7th inning, with one out and bases loaded with three singles, the Blue Jays pitcher walked Ichiro and thus walked in Brett Gardner (who excelled tonight with 4 singles and 2 runs scored). Bases still loaded and one more out on the board, and the McCann RBI machine comes through again with a 3-run triple.
And suddenly, the Yankees jumped ahead 7-2 (5 RBIs from McCann alone), and with that errant RBI double by the Jays in the 8th, the final score ended up at 7-3 Yankees. A win is always great. A win against Toronto is even sweeter.
It was Day 3 of HOPE Week. Today, the Yankees did something kind of amazing. They invited three kids from an organization called “Friends of Jaclyn” to sign a one-day contract with the Yankees. Friends of Jaclyn is a foundation with the sole purpose of helping children with brain cancer connect with college and high school sports team, “adopting” the children as honorary members. The three children “adopted” by the Yankees today were 4-year-old Quinn, 12-year-old Ryan, and 11-year-old Sean, who were treated to a formal press conference, supervised by their new manager Girardi and their honorary Player Representative Robertson, before being shown to their locker in the clubhouse, suiting up for batting practice. Jaclyn, whose own battle with cancer as a child inspired her father to start the foundation, is now 19 and cancer-free for 9 years and helped out with the day’s events.
Some of my favorite HOPE Week days involve kids. And this one is no exception. I guess because for me, the game always starts with a dream as a child. Every player on the team found their love for the game as children, each story a little different, but every dream the same — to be a professional ball player. And it’s the kids who I love seeing at games in the stands, cheering and going for foul ball and being oh so grateful when someone they admire tosses a scuffed-up ball into their little gloves. It’s that hope, that dream, that spark that reminds me why baseball is so special. It’s a kids game that a few grown-ups are just lucky enough to play for longer than a childhood. It’s inspirational to thousands of youngsters to at least make an effort to reach for their dreams. And that’s what HOPE Week is about — to reach for the dreams of something beyond the now, something that is worth hoping for, something like signing with the Yankees one day, even if it’s for just that one day.