The Yankees are back on the top of the AL East, and all is right with the world. The Yankees knew going into this weekend series in Toronto that this could be the make-or-break series of the season because of where the Yankees and Blue Jays are in the standings. With the Blue Jays coming into this series on an 11-game winning streak, due in part to sweeping the Yankees last weekend in the Bronx, so the Yankees were looking to snap their streak and get themselves back into the lead.
They did both, but not without the requisite dramatic flair.
Ivan Nova got the start at a very muggy Rogers Centre and actually threw a really good game. He had one weak inning, but he was really rather good outside of that — 105 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs, and striking out 3 batters. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch, and with a single, runners were on the corners. A force ground out scored the lead runner, a double then scored another, and a sacrifice fly scored Toronto’s third run of the evening. Even after getting into a bit of trouble in the 7th inning, Nova was able to pitch his way out of trouble.
The Yankees were up against one of the better pitchers in the AL, one who has been pretty good since his debut with another AL team (this is his 3rd team). He actually kept the Yankees from doing much more than getting on base on occasion — with the Yankees racking up 11 hits over his 7.1 innings. But he didn’t allow the Yankees to score or even really threaten much for most of his outing. That is until he reached a high pitch count and just couldn’t seem to keep that control over the Yankees in the 8th inning.
So with 1 out and Teixeira and McCann on base with singles, Chase Headley hit a big ground-rule double to score Teixeira and get the Yankees on the board. The Blue Jays’ starter exited the game with a standing ovation, a well-deserved standing ovation. And all he could do was watch the game he worked so hard on just slip away. Pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran promptly came up to the plate and hit a big 3-run home run to push the Yankees up and over the Blue Jays.
And with the Yankees now with a marginal lead over the Blue Jays, it was “Dynamic Duo” time. Dellin Betances’ 8th inning was rather flawless with just 7 pitches to put the Blue Jays away swiftly. Andrew Miller had a bit more trouble in the 9th, putting 2 runners on base with a single and a walk and moving them into scoring position on a wild pitch. He got a much-needed strikeout to keep the momentum going and then battled the Blue Jays’ newly acquired young star for the final out. Miller earned his 26th save after throwing 28 pitches, 12 of those to the final batter to get the last strikeout.
Exhale. Back in 1st place.
Final score: 4-3 Yankees.
The Yankees announced tonight that they will be celebrating Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit achievement (back on June 19) with a special ceremony on Sunday, September 13 before the game against the Blue Jays. Rodriguez says he was in disbelief that he would ever get a special ceremony, saying that it shows the class of the Steinbrenners and the entire organization. In a way, this is almost more of a milestone to show the repaired relationship between Rodriguez and the Yankees. Everyone likes a redemption story, even if for but a season.
Nova took a nasty ball off his hand at one point in the 3rd inning, and it stung so much that Nova briefly thought he might have broken it. But no worries there — x-rays came back clean. A nasty bruise, some pain medication, and a few days rest will take care of that.
Also, we would like to send out our thoughts and prayers for the manager of Boston Red Sox John Farrell. The Red Sox announced today that Farrell has been diagnosed with stage 1 lymphoma and will be taking the rest of the season off to receive treatment. At this stage, it is considered treatable. While Farrell is focusing on his health, the Red Sox will be managed by current bench coach Torey Lovullo. Lovullo has been the bench coach since 2013 and has spent time on various minor league coaching staffs after a short career in the majors (including a brief stint with the Yankees in 1991). Again, Farrell and his family are in our thoughts and prayers on his journey to health.