Game 69: LAA vs. NYY — Snapping the skid

Sometimes, all it takes to right the ship is a single moment or a single game. This was that game to snap the Yankees really out-of-character recent spiral, and reset the focus. Though it was certainly not without its questionable moments in this middle game against the visiting Angels.

The Yankees struck first in the 2nd. With 1 out, Sanchez singled and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ solid home run into the 2nd deck of the right field seats. It was a good sign of things to come for the Yankees, who would eventually rack up 12 total hits and 5 walks during the game.

Jordan Montgomery got the start and continued impressing with his 97 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 5 Angels’ batters. His only allowed runs were in the 4th inning. With 2 outs, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a balk, but then a batter hit a big 2-run homer to tie up the game at that point.

But the Yankees came back in the 5th to break the tie and push themselves back into the lead. With 2 outs, Matt Holliday smacked his 15th home run of the season, a solo shot into the right field seats. And Sanchez led-off the 6th with a single, and Headley worked a 1-out walk to end the Angels’ starter’s night.

A new pitcher gave up a double to Austin Romine that scored both Sanchez and Headley for a few insurance runs. Romine moved to 3rd on a flyout and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. Holliday led-off with a double and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Castro later scored on Chase Headley’s 2-out single.

Meanwhile, Chad Green came on to finish Montgomery’s 6th inning and pitched a fairly clean 7th. Dellin Betances breezed through the 8th inning in just 14 pitches, including 2 strong strikeouts.

But it would be Tyler Clippard that made things interesting. Despite looking forward to stopping his own skid this season, his 9th inning was troubling. He gave up a lead-off double that scored on a 2-run home run to halve the Yankees’ lead. But the Yankees weren’t about to lose this game and sent in their insurance plan — Aroldis Chapman for a 9-pitch outing, ratcheting up the heat to 103 mph for the final strikeout pitch.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees.

The Yankees now will be looking to surge forward in victory, closing out this midweek series against the Angels on a win before facing the weekend series against the Rangers. In an update to the standings: the Yankees are back on top in the AL East with this win (and the Red Sox’s loss) tonight. But just by half a game.

Actually, looking at the standings daily is amusing. Because it so fluctuates at this point in the season. At first, at the beginning of the season, it’s so extreme in the standings. And then by almost the half-way point in the season, it’s a matter of a series that can change who’s leading a division. And this pattern continues through most of the season, right up until the end.

Of course, there’s always that one team that runs away from their division (I’m looking at you NL East right now). And it’s not a matter that the one team is that good, but rather the rest of the division is just that bad in comparison. But sometimes, there’s a 1998 Yankees season where they run away with the division because they’re just that good (setting a league record of 114 wins during the regular season, and 11 more in the postseason, plus the World Series).

But right now, it’s still very much anyone’s game. You never know which team’s going to get hot, which team’s going to be bogged down with injuries, and which team’s going to just surprise everyone and do the unexpected. Because that’s baseball… you learn to expect the unexpected.

And it certainly makes life a whole lot more fun.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: NYY vs. OAK — Swept away on Father’s Day

On this Father’s Day 2017, I am reminded of my own father who loved this great game of baseball. He was what you would call a fan of the game. I remember sitting with him and my brothers in a dreary stadium by Lake Erie, and even when our team lost yet another one, my dad never thought of them as a “mistake on the lake”. No, he appreciated the strategy and called it a “thinking man’s game”.

Of course, he did have a favorite team, but he actually just loved the game no matter who was playing. He always told us that when he watched the players, he was reminded they all were once little leaguers with big dreams. Maybe he identified as such because he also once had big dreams of playing ball.

When my dad was growing up in the first part of the 20th century, baseball was the sport to play. Summer afternoons saw neighborhood kids gathered in a local park with tattered gloves and old bats to play a game just for the fun of it. At home or even in local stores, fans gathered around the radio, listening to games from Cleveland or Chicago or New York. This love of baseball resulted in friendships that lasted a lifetime.

My dad’s love of the game connected our family together. On Father’s Day, there is usually a ballgame playing somewhere, and while many of us now root for different teams, it is my dad’s love for the game that gave us this gift of connection over this shared interest in baseball.

And there was, of course, a baseball game today, as the Yankees closed out their road trip with this final game in Oakland against the Athletics. The Yankees were looking at winning one in the “Bright Side of the Bay” (which it clearly wasn’t for the Yankees this weekend). And Luis Cessa got the start this Father’s Day afternoon, throwing 73 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 Oakland batters.

All of Oakland’s runs were scored in the 3rd inning, clearly Cessa’s weakest time today (he gave up 4 of his 5 hits in that inning alone). With 1 out, a single and double put runners in scoring position so that they could on another double to get the A’s on the board. Then another player hit a 2-out 2-run home run to double their score and push them into the lead.

Other than that lone inning, Cessa had a pretty good outing, despite setting himself up for the loss. He handed the game over to Chad Green, whose 5th and 6th innings continued that same pattern of keeping the A’s from doing much. Tyler Clippard’s 7th was nearly flawless, but it would be recently reinstated Aroldis Chapman sailed through his 8th inning with just 8 pitches. (Talk about a comeback!)

Now, the Yankees weren’t exactly shut out or sitting on their laurels through this game. In fact, they struck first when Matt Holliday fired a solo home run to lead off the 2nd inning. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s 1-out single.

Didi Gregorius smacked a long ball to the right field seats, just to the left of the foul pole. The umpires called it a home run, but just to cover their bases, the umpires called for a review themselves to make sure the ball really was a home run. It was, and the Yankees were within a run of the Athletics after their big 3rd inning.

But the A’s starter did a pretty decent job of fending of any potential Yankee rallies into the 7th inning and the bullpen (surprisingly for this team) just breezed through the final 8 outs and shut the Yankees down in order.

Final score: 4-3 Athletics, Athletics sweep series 4-0 (Yankees’ West Coast road trip: 1-6)

Roster moves: The Yankees sent Kyle Higashioka back to AAA Scranton to make room for Aroldis Chapman, who is now back from his rehab assignment and off the disabled list.

The Yankees took a few moments to honor their dads and reflect on what this day means to them, as so many of them are now fathers themselves. Manager Joe Girardi shared his insights. Gary Sanchez was recently featured in a special article, talking about how the birth of his daughter Sarah changed him as a man and as a player. He sees becoming a father as a turning point in his life, a sentiment I believe most fathers would echo.

And so, on this day that honors so many fathers, I am remembering my dad with thankfulness for introducing me to this wonderful game of baseball. I wish I could be sitting with him today cheering on the team, eating peanuts, and keeping the box score. I will always remember how he had a way of using baseball to teach us life lessons when watching a game, that character counts, that integrity and honesty and loyalty are to be valued. By his example, I learned to support the whole team, not just individual players. To find the positive in even a negative situation. That there’s always another day and another game. To always hope. And above all, to never give up.

My dad remembered the one year his team did win the World Series when he was a boy (hint: it was 1948) and almost saw it happen again in his lifetime (about 10 years before he passed away). But even in his later years, he was ever the fan, even wearing a team cap when he watched a game on TV, hopeful that this might be “the year”.

Which brings me to this year. In 2017, there is a very real chance that could be “the year” for the Yankees. (Despite the current outcome of this road trip!) That elusive #28 is a real possibility. But no matter how the season ends, we’ll still remember that there’s always the hope for “the year” — as if we just know it’s an eventuality. And with the Yankees, we know from experience that it really is.

So, thanks, Dad.

Go Yankees!

Game 61: NYY vs. LAA — Back to #TanakaTime helps make it 6 in a row

An extra day’s rest seemed to be exactly what tonight’s starter Masahiro Tanaka needed to get back into form. Not that it was the greatest outing, but it was certainly more “Tanaka-esque” compared to his more recent outings. Not quite back to the Tanaka who dominated Spring Training, but more on par with a regular season kind of Tanaka.

In this first game of the series in Anaheim against the Angels, Tanaka threw 89 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs (though only 1 was earned), and struck out an impressive 8 batters. Actually, he was quite dominant tonight. He gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning but then held the Angels off for most of his outing. In his final inning, the 7th, with 1 out, a batter reached on a fielding error, stole 2nd, and then scored on an RBI single.

The Yankees then handed the ball off to Tyler Clippard to finish the 7th inning. Clippard gave up an RBI double that technically blew Tanaka’s win, but then buckled down and got that 3rd out and then the first 2 of the 8th inning. Dellin Betances came out for a 4-out save, breezing through them in just 18 pitches, including 3 strong strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees had to catch up to the Angels early small lead, get out in front, and then overtake them again to win this game. The Yankees hit into the Angels’ starter pretty hard, pushing him to 93 pitches and exiting the game in just the 5th inning.

First, in the 3rd, with 2 outs, Holliday and Castro each worked a walk, and Didi Gregorius’ single scored Holliday to initially tie up the game. Then in the 5th, Judge worked a 1-out walk, and Castro hit a 2-out single. Gregorius’ single then scored Judge to break the tie.

Deep into the bullpen already, the Angels sent in a new reliever for the 7th inning. Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, watched the reliever intentionally walk Gregorius with 2 outs, and then scored on Chase Headley’s single. Despite a walk to Carter loading the bases, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize at that moment to gain any further ground.

After the Angels tied up the game in the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees immediately came back in the 8th to retake the lead. Aaron Hicks hit a nice 1-out double and waited for another pitching change. And then Aaron Judge promptly hit his 22nd home run of the season, a 2-run shot to the right field seats to give the Yankees the ultimate win, setting Betances up for the save.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

It’s worth noting that Didi Gregorius was on fire tonight, going 4-for-4, with a walk and 2 RBIs. He’s now batting .344 for the season. He’s still 2nd on the team for batting average (Judge, of course, is 1st with .347), but it’s worth noting of the 9 players who started tonight’s game 4 have batting averages above .300 (Judge, Gregorius, Castro, and Hicks), while of the regular roster, there’s 9 players who have averages above .260 (the four above plus Ellsbury, Torreyes, Holliday, Sanchez, and Gardner).

And today was the first day of the MLB Draft: the Yankees first pick (and 16th overall) was right-handed pitcher Clark Schmidt, a junior at the University of South Carolina (and former fellow classmate and teammate of current starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery). Schmidt is actually still on recovery from Tommy John surgery this April. So despite being a first-round draft pick, he won’t be able to resume baseball activities for another year, meaning he will probably still finish his education while he recovers.

For the Yankees other pick of the day, the second round and 54th pick overall, they selected Matt Sauer, another right-handed pitcher, who graduates from a California high school this year. Oddly, because of Schmidt’s current status on the unofficially disabled list, Sauer was actually rated much higher on the Draft prospect list than Schmidt. But the funniest thing about the draft is that you just never know who’s going to be the next hall-of-famer and who might have more success as a high school baseball coach.

There’s two more days and 38 more rounds of the draft tomorrow and Wednesday, and you never know who might they might pick up  along the way.

Go Yankees!

Game 59: BAL vs. NYY — They don’t call them the “Bronx Bombers” for nothing…

It only took until the end of the 1st inning when I knew this was going to be one of “those games”. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I prefer those close games, the edge-of-your-seat action when you don’t know if they can pull it off in the end, right up to the very last out when you find you can breathe again. Yeah, this was not one of those games.

Luis Severino had a truly great outing tonight, in this middle game of the weekend series with the visiting Orioles. Severino threw just 89 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, striking out 8 Baltimore batters along the way.

Severino was so strong that he breezed through his 12 outs (4 innings) straight, not allowing his first base runner until a lead-off walk in the 5th. The first hit of the night for Baltimore was also in the 5th, but Severino pitched his way out of the inning. Other than that, the only other hit he allowed was a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. And that would be the first run the Orioles scored tonight.

The two relievers each took an inning and gave up a single run each. Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 8th and gave up a 1-run solo shot. Tommy Layne gave up a lead-off walk who moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out pinch-hit single before ending the inning (and game) with another ground out.

But no worries, like I said, it was one of those games. Because the Orioles couldn’t seem to find a pitcher to shut down the Yankees’ dominant offense (except for a ironically former Yankee reliever). In the 1st, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge hit his 19th home run of the season into the left field seats. Holliday singled and moved to 3rd on Castro’s double, and both scored on Gary Sanchez’s single. Then Didi Gregorius hit a 2-run home run to clear the bases. Headley worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Chris Carter’s single.

With 1 out in the 2nd, Judge and Holliday both earned walks and then scored as part of Starlin Castro’s big 3-run home run. That was the final straw for the O’s starter after just 45 pitches in the middle of the 2nd inning. The new reliever got the needed 2 outs to end that inning and was able to make it through the 3rd, but then ran into trouble of his own in the 4th. Hicks led-off with a walk and then made it to 3rd on Judge’s single. Matt Holliday’s 3-run home run cleared the bases before this reliever got the first out of the inning. After Sanchez’s double (and just 44 pitches), he too was shown the door.

In a repeat of events, the new reliever got the last 2 outs of the inning. But then found trouble in the 5th himself. With 1 out, Gardner singled, Hicks doubled, and Judge’s double scored both runners. After Holliday’s single, a double play ended the inning. But that would be it for that reliever too (with another 45 pitches).

The former Yankee breezed his way through the Yankees in the 6th and 7th innings in just 27 pitches, the first time in the game that the Yankees weren’t the dominant ones. But then the O’s decided to send in a new guy. (And this is where all the Baltimore “message board managers” went all: “Why?!?”) Because, of course, there were more runs the Yankees needed to score.

Torreyes led-off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and then scored as part of a 2-run home run by Gary Sanchez. Headley would later get a 1-out double to put another runner in scoring position, but the pitcher got the final 2 outs he needed to make sure the Yankees weren’t into utterly ridiculous territory as far as run-scoring goes. But the 18 total hits (and 5 walks) by Yankee hitters was already ridiculous enough.

Final score: 16-3 Yankees.

It is worth noting that Aaron Judge continues to set MLB records. He was a triple short of the cycle tonight, which would’ve been cool as no one has hit for the cycle yet in the new Yankee Stadium. (A cycle is when a single batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in a single game, though not necessarily in that order.) But the one record he set tonight had to do with his power — his home run in the 1st inning had an exit velocity of 121.1 mph. That means he hit that ball harder than anyone has ever hit a ball since they started that stat (beating the previous record of 120.3 mph in 2015). He currently hold the record for the top 4 hardest hit balls this season.

And it’s only June 10, people!

The Yankees opted to give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day’s rest, moving his start to Monday against the Angels in California. But the Yankees just announced who will start for Sunday’s finale against the Orioles. It will be Chad Green. And to replace him in the bullpen, the Yankees called up Domingo German and designated Tommy Layne for assignment. Layne has been crucial for the Yankee bullpen, I doubt Layne will go far. And we’ll see how this starter gamble plays out over the next two games. So stay tuned!

Go Yankees!

Game 56: BOS vs. NYY — #CCStrong shuts out the competition

According to some weird trivia bits on my newsfeed, tonight’s game was the largest shutout win against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium since September 1965. And honestly, it’s really a whole lot to do with starter CC Sabathia, who dominated once again, and led the Yankees to his 5th straight win.

Like I said, Sabathia was dominant through his outing tonight in the middle game against the Red Sox, throwing 95 pitches through his 8 innings. He gave up 5 hits and no walks, striking out 5 Boston batters. But more importantly, Sabathia allowed no runs.

Yes, between the dominant pitching by Sabathia and the great defense, the Yankee kept the Red Sox scoreless. And Jonathan Holder continued that streak with a stellar 10-pitch 9th inning to breeze through the Red Sox lineup and close out the game.

In the 3rd, Didi Gregorius led-of with a solo home run to start off the Yankees’ run-scoring tonight. The Yankees loaded up the bases that inning, but left all 3 runner stranded. But this certainly wasn’t the sign of things to come this game. Castro led-off the 4th inning with a great stand-up triple and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s single, and Headley hit a 1-out single to join Sanchez on the bases. They both then scored when Chris Carter hit a really big 3-run home run deep into the left field seats.

Later, in the bottom of the 7th, Gardner reached 1st on a fielding error and then stole 2nd, his first stolen base since April 10. Gardner eventually scored all the way from 2nd on Matt Holliday’s 2-out single. He went all “superman” as he slid into home plate to easily beat the off-center throw.

In the 8th, with 1 out, Gregorius singled and Headley walked to get things started again. Chris Carter’s single scored Gregorius, moving Headley to 3rd. And Brett Gardner singled home Headley to cap off the Yankee runs tonight. The Yankees certainly racked up the hits (as well as the runs), with a grand total of 12 hits by Yankee batters.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

A rather nice turn of events after last night. Though you can’t say the Yankees didn’t make it a close one despite the struggles at the start. These Yankees this season are something else to watch.

On another note: one of my favorite parts of seeing baseball live and in person is showing up early for batting practice. You get to watch the players take swings and the occasional fielding drill all leading up to the game. This year is especially fun for fans who crowd the outfield seats and bleachers in hopes of catching batting practice home run balls from the likes of a player like Aaron Judge. You never know when one of his big hits can come your way out there.

In fact, it’s not only fans that have to stay alert for an Aaron Judge hit. Judge has actually broken a television in a club in the outfield seating area at Yankee Stadium, hit 2 balls into a hotel near the stadium in Toronto, and smacked one into a vendor’s kiosk, bouncing it off the bar area, before tonight’s game.

So basically, when Judge is up, look out! Those little signs on the backs of the chairs are true, especially when a certain outfielder is in the batter’s box or in the batting cage:

Be Alert!
#truth {photo courtesy of author}

Go Yankees!

Game 55: BOS vs. NYY — A chilly rivalry slows Yankee advance

The calendar says June 6, but the weather certainly wasn’t keeping up in the Bronx tonight. No, it was cold (54° at first pitch and dropping) and drizzling rain through most of the game. And yet, the packed crowd in the Bronx bundled up to watch the first game of this week’s rivalry series. Because there’s nothing like the rivalry series.

I mean, over the years, it’s certainly toned down from the vitriolic fervor that you probably wouldn’t want to take your kids to. And then the Red Sox won the Series (3 times), and suddenly, it’s all good. It’s like having a good debate about really opposing politics, and then still being able to go out for drinks with that person with no hard feelings. It’s the good kind of rivalry — where you don’t hate the people or the city, and you want good things for them everywhere except within the ball park. No, in the ball park, you do not wish good things for them, and a loss stings a bit harder than most other losses.

Of course, if there was a better start, they Yankees actually might have had this game. But Masahiro Tanaka continued in his struggles on the mound in tonight’s game. He threw just 62 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, and striking out just 2 Boston batters, setting himself (and the Yankees) up for the loss.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter singled, made it to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Red Sox a small early lead. But Tanaka was able to hold them off until control slipped again in the 4th, giving up his lone walk to lead-off the inning. Then he gave up consecutive home runs, all before recording an out. A 2-out solo shot in the 5th capped off the Red Sox’s runs for the night.

So, with Tanaka coming off a rough start, the rest of the team had some work to do. The bullpen had to keep the Red Sox from adding to their score. Which they actually did quite well. Layne allowed a lead-off walk in the 6th, but then Chad Green came in for some long-term relief and just breezed through the Red Sox lineup, including getting 5 stellar strikeouts for his 10 outs (pitching just over 3 innings). Shreve closed things out for the last 2 outs of the 9th inning in just 9 pitches.

The Yankees offense had some catching up to do as well. Down early, the Yankees took their first available opportunity in the 2nd inning. After Hicks worked a 1-out walk, Didi Gregorius singled and thanks to a throwing error by the outfielder, Hicks scored and Gregorius ended up all the way at 3rd. But 2 outs later, the game was still tied.

Down even further in the 5th, Chris Carter led-off with a big, solid solo home run. After the starter exhausted himself in just 5 innings (throwing a whopping 123 pitches, by the way), a new reliever gave the Yankees a bit more chances. Starlin Castro led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ single, and then scored while Gregorius hit into a double play.

The Yankees took the final shot in the 8th under yet another new reliever. Matt Holliday led-off with a double and then on a ground out camped at 3rd for a bit. With a new pitcher, Gregorius actually struck out on a wild pitch, but the catcher was unable to handle it and Gregorius took off for 1st base as Holliday came running home. Everyone’s safe, and the Yankees were within a single run of the Red Sox lead. Despite Headley’s walk, the Yankees ended up stranding 2 runners on base and then never had a chance in the 9th for a final rally.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox

MLB released its latest AL All-Star Game voting information. And as it turns out, the whole world is an Aaron Judge fan. Yes, Judge is now #1 overall in voting, plus #1 in the outfield category. Basically, everyone seems to recognize that there’s something pretty awesome about this kid. He does something kind of spectacular at nearly every game, and he’s getting noticed, rightly so. However, I think MLB beat reporter Bryan Hoch put it best during a moment tonight’s Judge show:

And there’s still quite a bit of Yankee representation: Castro dropped to 2nd for 2nd basemen; Holliday is up to 2nd for designated hitters; Gregorius is 3rd for short stops; Sanchez is 4th for catchers; and Gardner is 9th and Ellsbury 15th for outfielders. Have you voted your 35 times yet?

Now, on this day, in 1944, 73 years ago, the Allies embarked on a huge invasion of northern France in what became known to the world as D-Day. It was the ultimate turning point for the Allied forces, leading to the liberation of France from Nazi occupation and eventually to their victory over the Axis Powers. Baseball in America was cancelled that day as Americans clung to their radios to hear about the storming of the beaches of Normandy.

But one particular person you may have heard of played a key role in that operation. A young naval officer named Larry spend the invasion running messages between Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, two of the specific points of attack on the western side of the English Channel. At one point, he and five crewmates provided cover fire on Omaha Beach to soften the German defenses to get US troops to advance on land.

No one knew that the scrawny kid from St. Louis, who helped keep the Allies in communication at the risk of his own life at times that day, would be the same one they’d be cheering on to help the Yankees win multiple World Series championships in the next coming decades. Even today, folks proudly wear #8 in his honor, but 73 years ago, he did more than just hit a ball around. Yogi Berra showed what it really meant to be a hero, and he served his country well.

And then he came back to play a little baseball…

A big thank you once again to all our nation’s veterans and their families. Your service and sacrifice are never forgotten.

Go Yankees!

Game 53: NYY vs. TOR — Strong start, stronger late-inning bombs

A lovely 64° and sunny in Toronto (not a sign of “The Big Smoke” in sight), with the roof open at Rogers Centre and a great view of the landmark CN Tower for the sellout crowd today. In other words, it was a beautiful day for some baseball.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today. The rookie throwing what had to be his strongest start of the season so far. He threw 103 pitches through the 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 5 Toronto batters, setting himself up for the win. But the important part of the whole outing was that there were no runs scored by the Blue Jays, thanks in part to the outstanding performance by the great Yankees defense.

That continued through the latter third of the game, as Warren, Clippard, and Betances each took an inning to shut the Blue Jays down and keep putting up those zeroes on the scoreboard.

Of course, this would all mean nothing unless the Yankees had some offense to counter it. And actually, the Blue Jays starter had a pretty good outing himself for the first 7 innings. The Yankees weren’t even able to score until the 3rd inning. Refsnyder made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Hicks then scored on Aaron Judge’s double to put the Yankees in the lead on a few unearned runs. And in the 7th, Castro led off with a double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Gregorius would later get caught in a rundown.

The Blue Jays starter had a pretty good day if the Yankees’ pitchers didn’t have a better one. Or if the Jays’ bullpen didn’t have a really off 8th inning. Brett Gardner led-off with a solo shot to right field. And 2 outs later, the Yankees decided to back-to-back-to-back — Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro, and Didi Gregorius.

It would be just the 4th time in Yankees history they hit 4 homers in a single inning — 1977 (in Toronto, the 8th), 2005 (against the Rays, the 8th), 2012 (against the Red Sox, the 2nd), and then today (in Toronto in the 8th). Though oddly none of them were 4 consecutive homers.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees.

Injury news: Jacoby Ellsbury has been shut down due to the return of his concussion symptoms. He had been taking swings in the batting cages and running a bit in the outfield for practice and to work his way back to the team. But with the recurrence of his symptoms, he’s officially shut down from all baseball activities.

Also… Greg Bird continues his rehab with the Tampa Yankees. And Aroldis Chapman threw a light session today and is feeling good. So he’s nursing that shoulder and easing his way back into baseball shape.

And despite taking a bad foul ball off his knee, Austin Romine stayed in the game. He clearly was in pain through the game, even as he jogged to 1st a couple of times. He should have a nasty bruise to nurse for the next few days, but Sanchez is scheduled to start with Severino’s start tomorrow.

Go Yankees!