The Bottom Third and the Bullpen…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5…

The bottom of the Yankees lineup powered the team to victory on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays with an assist by the bullpen.  Six of the eleven runs were courtesy of the bottom third of the order.  Nine runs if you throw in the number 6 hitter (the Toddfather).  It was a much needed win as the Boston Red Sox are currently riding an eight-game winning streak (which they will bring to the Bronx on Friday night when they begin a three-game series against the beloved home team).

Masahiro Tanaka only gave up two hits but he was gone after four innings, pulled in the 5th with no outs, having thrown 88 pitches which included five walks and three runs (two earned).  So, it was up to the stacked bullpen to power its way to victory.

The Yankees got on the board first with two runs in the top of the 2nd.  Gary Sanchez and Todd Frazier led off the inning against Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch with back-to-back home runs.  The Jays’ Kevin Pillar made a nearly successful leap to rob Sanchez, but the ball was just beyond his reach.  I’ve said it before but I hate solo home runs.  It’s not that I hate home runs…I love the runs, but I just prefer men on base when it happens (statement of the obvious).  Two home runs…the potential for eight runs…or two.  I just prefer to be somewhere in the middle (or more).  Oh well, the stats seem to favor the Yankees when they homer in games so I am not complaining.

Credit:  The Associated Press

The Blue Jays got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd when Steve Pearce walked and advanced to third on Kevin Pillar’s double to left.  Nori Aoki hit a grounder to second  for an out, but Pearce scored on the play (with Pillar moving to third).  It got a little too interesting with the next batter when Darwin Barney hit a grounder to third and the Yankees had Pillar caught in a rundown.  But it wasn’t executed cleanly and Pillar almost scored if not for the athleticism of Tanaka who took the throw behind Gary Sanchez to nail the runner at the plate.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the 3rd brought another solo home run, this time a shot to the second deck in right center by Didi Gregorius, as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-1.  

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Jays answered in the bottom of the inning without a single hit.  Raffy Lopez led off and reached base through catcher’s interference on a pitch that would have been the third strike.  Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak walked to load the bases.  Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Donaldson to make it a one-run game.  

It looked like the Yankees were going to break the game open in the 5th when Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to center.  The Jays brought in Leonel Campos to replace Tepesch.  He was successful in striking out Gary Sanchez, but Todd Frazier followed with a double to right center to score Judge and Gregorius.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to center to score Frazier and it was 6-2 Yankees.

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

In the bottom of the 5th, the Jays started to chip away.  Jose Bautista led off with a home run to left.  Masahiro Tanaka walked the next batter (Josh Donaldson) and Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough.  He brought in Chad Green who struck out the side to prevent any further damage.

Unfortunately, the 6th inning didn’t go so well for Green.  Nori Aoki opened with a single.  Darwin Barney hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Aoki, however, Ryan Goins doubled to left center to score Barney.  Girardi elected to pull Green and brought in Tommy Kahnle.  A wild pitch by Kahnle moved Goins to third.  Raffy Lopez walked to put runners at the corners.  Josh Donaldson singled to right center, scoring Goins, and it was a one-run game again.  

The Yankees finally got separation in the 8th when Todd Frazier led off the inning with a single to left center off Jays reliever Dominic Leone.  The Jays pulled Leone for J.P. Howell who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  Howell was then lifted for Taylor Cole which backfired on the Jays.  Garrett Cooper doubled to left with Frazier moving to third.  Ronald Torreyes, who has done a stellar job as a fill-in for Starlin Castro, singled to center to score both Frazier and Cooper.  Torreyes took second on the throw.  The Yankees almost had another run when Chase Headley singled to left center but Toe was gunned down at the plate.  

Nevertheless, the Yankees picked up three more runs in the top of the 9th with Cole still on the mound.  Didi Gregorius reached base on an infield single, Gary Sanchez singled to center and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second but Gregorius scored on the play.  Garrett Cooper doubled to center to bring both Sanchez and Frazier home.  The Jays had seen enough of Cole and pulled him for Danny Barnes who retired the last two Yankee batters get out of the inning and let the Jays come to bat for their last licks.

David Robertson and Dellin Betances had pitched scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively.  For the 9th to close it out, Girardi brought in Adam Warren.  It wasn’t clean but he got the job done.  A walk and a single had runners at the corners with two outs, but Warren got Kevin Pillar to fly out to Aaron Judge to end the game.  The Yankees win!

It was so great to see the Yankees finally make noise with runners in scoring position.  Garrett Cooper led the 17-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night.  He had 2 RBI’s and scored a run.  It was by far his best game as a Yankee.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes also had 2 RBI’s each.  Todd Frazier was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and four runs scored, including his 19th home run of the season.  Didi Gregorius was 3-for-5 with an RBI on the solo homer, his 18th, and three runs scored.  It was good to see Gary Sanchez homer, also his 18th.  He had two hits and scored twice.  This was a great team victory to pick up Tanaka.  Green (2-0) was the winner.  

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

The Yankees (60-52) remain four games behind the Boston Red Sox.  As noted at the top of this post, the Red Sox won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2.  Even though the Yankees didn’t gain any ground on the Red Sox, they increased their lead over the Rays by 3 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles also lost (5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels) so they fell 5 games behind the Yankees.  The Yankees currently hold a 2 1/2 game advantage in the Wild Card standings but I still think the AL East can be won.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees can pick up a 1/2 game with a win today over the Jays on Getaway Day.  The Sox will be waiting for the Yankees in the Bronx for a three-game set starting on Friday night.

Clint Frazier was scheduled to start the game in right field but was a late scratch for oblique tightness.  No immediate word on his condition.  Aaron Judge was moved from DH to right field, Chase Headley from 1B to DH, and Garrett Cooper inserted into the starting lineup at first.  Obviously, Cooper took advantage of the opportunity at Frazier’s expense.

Odds & Ends…

I’ll let others write about the upcoming Players Weekend on August 25th through 27th when players can wear nicknames on the back of alternate uniforms.  I know that many Yankee fans are up in arms, but I am indifferent.  It is a playful three days and it does not involve desecrating the famed Pinstripes.  But Pickles?  Really?  We’re going to throw Pickles at the Seattle Mariners?  Well, at least we can throw The Missile at them later.  I know that Sonny Gray has a story behind the name but it is still hard to wrap my head around it.

CC Sabathia’s MRI came back clear so it sounds as though he’ll be back on the mound sooner rather than later.  No word if he’ll miss any time.  Admittedly, I am skeptical about continuing to throw him out there.  The knee surely factored into the two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Tuesday.  I am not crazy about testing the knee in live, game scenarios.  I’ve enjoyed CC’s Yankees career but the end of this contract is a good farewell point for me.  I have no interest in testing the knee in 2018.  

I was bummed to see the Mets trade Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians.  I thought he would fit well on the Yankees roster as 1B/DH.  With a recent inability to get runs across the plate, Bruce would have helped kickstart the offense.  Apparently the Yankees were involved in trade talks until the end, but the dealbreaker was money.  The Yankees wanted the Mets to pay some of the remaining money owed to Bruce whereas the Indians absorbed the full balance due.  


Have a Sunny Day Thursday…or a Sonny Gray Thursday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

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