Game 81: TOR vs. NYY — Halfway to October, but first #SirDidi4Sure

Tonight’s game marks the Yankees technical halfway point in the season. They have now played 81 of their 162 games and are now 2.5 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East thanks to the recent skid of losses. Not exactly where they want to be, but there’s still a whole half of a season left to make up the difference.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight as the Yankees take on the visiting Blue Jays for the beginning of their 3-game series of this homestand, this final stretch before the All-Star break (the official halfway point of the season). Tanaka threw 11 pitches in 7 strong innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, striking out 8 Toronto batters. In fact, the Blue Jays didn’t get on the board until his final inning when a hit-by-pitch stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error before scoring on an RBI single.

Dellin Betances kept things going in the 8th, with his 20 pitches and 2 strikeouts. He then handed things over to Aroldis Chapman, but the closer struggled a bit through the 9th inning. A lead-off double scored on a 1-out double, and then that runner scored on a single. Then Chapman focused in and got the final 2 outs to close out the game. But he certainly made it look like work.

However, before all that, the Blue Jays showed why they’re holding up the bottom of the AL East. The Yankees got things started in the 1st inning by loading up the bases with 1 out. Chase Headley was hit by a pitch, which scored Judge, and Jacoby Ellsbury’s walk scored Sanchez. (Basically, the 2 most boring run scoring options available in baseball.) Then the Jays starter kept the Yankees from doing much, and his first 2 relievers followed suit.

The Yankees found their next opportunity in the 8th. Judge led-off with a single, Sanchez doubled, and Gregorius walked to load up the bases, with no outs. Headley’s double scored both Judge and Sanchez. And then after an out, a really strange play that could only be called a fielder’s choice thanks to a missed catch error. Torreyes hit a short dribbler in the infield which the pitcher fielded and threw home for the runner there, but the catcher lost it on the tag. So Gregorius was safe, and then while they were still trying to find the ball, Headley came in to score too.

It gave the Yankees the lead they’d need through the 9th inning struggles and still stay in command of the game and the win.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

Today, Aaron Judge made up his mind about the Home Run Derby. He’s in, but he’s not going alone. Gary Sanchez will be joining him on next Monday night in Miami. Don’t forget to vote in the final fan vote for Didi Gregorius to join Judge, Sanchez, Castro, Severino, and Betances at the All-Star Game next week.

The Yankees have also sweetened the deal for your final fan voters, offering ticket discounts for voters to select summer games. You can vote a maximum 35 times via text (text A3 to 89269), and an unlimited number of times online and via Twitter (one hashtag #SirDidi4Sure per tweet). Online voting ends July 6, 2017, at 3:59 pm EST. So vote often!

The Yankees are sending Greg Bird to get some exploratory surgery to figure out why his ankle still isn’t healing from his injury. He’s not been able to play in rehab games without pain in a long time, so clearly something is wrong. The Yankees have made it clear if there’s no clear-cut solution for Bird by the end of this month, they will be looking for options from the trade market to shore up their 1st base position. That trade deadline (of July 31) looms heavy on whatever the doctors decide with Bird.

Go Yankees!

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