Game 25: TOR vs. NYY — Home runs x7

Baseball is a funny sport because most games have quite a bit of downtime between them. In American football, it’s about a week. In other football, it’s at least 4 days (though usually about a week). In hockey, it’s every other day. In basketball, it’s a couple of days on, a couple of days off. But no, in baseball, it’s every day. That means, you can have one terrible game and wake up the next day with a redo shot and come out swinging for the fences.

And they certainly found those fences tonight. In the middle game in the series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees were looking to regain their winning momentum. Fortunately, they had plenty of opportunities tonight to do something about that. Masahiro Tanaka had a decent outing as tonight’s starter, throwing 91 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, and striking out just 4 Toronto batters.

Actually, Tanaka refused to give up a run until the 5th inning. He gave up a 1-out solo home run to get the Blue Jays on the board (albeit trailing by quite a bit at this point), and then a 2-out double scored on an RBI single to double their score. In the 7th, a lead-off solo home run (by the same player who hit the first one, by the way) kicked things off for the Jays. Then with 1 out and a runner at 1st with a single, Tanaka’s night was done.

But the bullpen kind of struggled out of the gate tonight. Tyler Clippard, usually in fine form, had some issues getting his outs. First, giving up a pop-out, but then loading up the bases with a single and a walk. Dellin Betances would have been fine except a balk moved all the runners up and scored another run, before a walk loaded the bases all over again. Betances got things in order and got a strikeout to end the threat and the 7th inning.

Tommy Layne had his own issues in the 8th. A lead-off single and double moved runners to scoring position, so that a ground out scored one more run for the Blue Jays. But then Layne got things under control and got the final 2 outs of the inning with his usual efficiency. Jonathan Holder easily had the cleanest inning, an 18-pitch, hitless, scoreless 9th inning.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got an early lead and kept building on it, thanks in part to some well-placed (or poorly-placed if you’re a Jays’ fan) pitches by their starter, who gave up a total of 10 hits in his 4 innings. Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a double, ended up at 3rd on Headley’s single, and then scored on Matt Holliday’s double.

In the 2nd, Judge led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run. Carter then singled and scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 1-out 2-run home run. And outfielder Aaron Judge wanted in on the fun, adding his own flair — a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd (his shortest home run to date, by the way). And Gardner hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 1-out solo home run in the 4th inning.

And then the Yankees faced the Toronto bullpen. Though to be perfectly fair, collectively, the bullpen did a better job on the mound tonight than the Jays’ starter. In the 6th, with 1 out and 2 runners in scoring position (thanks to a wild pitch), Chase Headley’s single scored the lead runner, Carter, adding to the Yankees’ increasing lead. Castro led-off the 7th with a double and Gregorius worked a walk. And it would be (who else?) Aaron Judge to hit his 12th home run of the season, a 3-run shot into the left field seats. Despite getting 3 more base runners on in the 7th, the Yankees’ run-scoring was over.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

A bit of weird trivia came up on my timeline during the game. Apparently, the last time the Yankees’ starting outfield all hit home runs and hit a combined 5 homers in a single game was May 30, 1961 — Mantle (2), Maris (2), and Berra (1). Tonight, it was Judge (2), Gardner (2), and Hicks (1). Not bad company to be part of.

Okay, so there’s a ton of injury updates and roster moves to talk about. First up, Greg Bird‘s ankle from that Spring Training injury in March hasn’t healed, as MRI tests reveal that his bone bruise is the same as the last time they checked. The Yankees put him on the 10-day DL, calling up Rob Refsnyder as an extra bench player while Bird rests and gets treatment. Also, for fresh arms in the bullpen (not that they needed it tonight), the Yankees sent Luis Cessa back to Scranton, recalling Chasen Shreve.

Now, during last night’s game, Jacoby Ellsbury ran right into the center field fence during a key play, and while he finished the game, today’s tests revealed some soreness and a bruised nerve in his left elbow. So he’s shut down for a couple of days, hopefully rejoining the team fully for the weekend series in Chicago. Though clearly, the outfield is covered for the time being.

And during the game tonight, Austin Romine suffered some discomfort and was ultimately pulled from the game in the 6th inning, as he advanced to 3rd on an offensive play. At the change in the inning, Romine was done with the game, Higashioka in behind the plate and Romine diagnosed with what was dubbed “cramping in the right groin”, later attributed to dehydration. If you’re wondering about catcher options, know that Sanchez did really well with the Scranton team tonight for his rehab game. They are hoping he will rejoin the team by this weekend, unless they need him before then.

On a slightly different note, I do want to address a general issue. Normally, I wouldn’t be mentioning an incident where a Baltimore outfielder was harassed by fans at Fenway last night. But this was no ordinary incident. Boston fans used racial slurs at the center fielder, one even hurled a bag of peanuts at him. As Yankee fans, we’re used to hostility from the opposing team’s crowd, but this was too far. I don’t care who you are or which team you root for, but you don’t resort to racial slurs and assault to antagonize a player. Much of the comparison is being drawn due to the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut and the vitriol he took from the racist crowds.

Folks, you cannot cheer on a team filled with players of color only to slur obscenities at players of color on the other team. Now, having spent time in Boston (and yes, Fenway), I know this is not representative of your city or your true fans. And yet, I wasn’t really that shocked to find out that this seems fairly common there (and in a few other rather known hostile stadiums). It’s always a few loud-mouth bad apples that lead the charge and spoil the game for the rest of the fans. Part of the fun of the game is rooting for your guys to do well, but resorting to violence and obscenity and stooping to racial slurs is downright degrading and doesn’t represent my sport.

So, all you who love this sport and love keeping it clean and family friendly, do your part. Teach your kids how to be good fans, and then you go be the example of what a good fan is. You can respect players on opposing teams as human beings (who might one day wear your team’s uniform) and still cheer on your guys. You can break the cycle. You can be the difference. You can prove that we’re better than we were 70 years ago.

Go Yankees!

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