Summer weather, clear skies, and the play-by-play voice of Dan Shulman presented an outstanding atmosphere for Blue Jays baseball. Unfortunately, the Jays' play did not match this environment, as Toronto dropped the first game of this three-game series.
Fireballer Nathan Eovaldi took the mound for the Yankees and quickly retired Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion without much difficulty. In contrast, R.A. Dickey immediately fell behind Jacoby Ellsbury to begin the bottom half, and the Yankees centre-fielder took advantage by hitting a sharp line drive to right field. Although it appeared to be a single off of the bat, Bautista misjudged the ball, coming up short on a diving effort that soon led to a lead-off triple.
Dickey fell into further trouble after surrendering a walk to Brett Gardner, but managed to bounce-back by striking out Mark Teixeira. With runners on the corners and one out, Dickey jammed Carlos Beltran on an elevated offering, inducing a weak ground ball to Encarnacion at first base. Unfortunately, the ball just wasn't hit hard enough to be an easy double play, and Beltran beat the relay throw by half a step to give the Yankees the early 1-0 lead.
Toronto threatened to tie things up in both the second and third, but Eovaldi continually managed to get out of trouble unscathed. To get things started,Troy Tulowitzki stayed on an off-speed offering just long enough to line a one-out single above the outstretched glove of Starlin Castro at 2nd. Jimmy Paredes followed by drawing an easy walk, but Kevin Pillar and Darwin Barney both grounded out to end the inning.
The top of the third really offered a lot of promise for the Blue Jays, as nine-hitter Josh Thole worked a leadoff walk to begin the frame. Bautista followed with a line-drive single, bringing up Donaldson with two-on and none-out. The reigning AL MVP attempted to catch the Yankees off-guard by trying to bunt for a hit, but the ball travelled too far and Headley easily threw him out at first base. The runners did manage to advance on the play, but an Encarnacion strike out preceded an easy fly-out off of the bat of Michael Saunders.
After failing to capitalize on these chances, Toronto failed to generate another base runner until the seventh. While R.A. Dickey settled in nicely, he did surrender a solo shot to Carlos Beltran to begin the forth, extending the Yankees lead to 2-0. Eovaldi was pulled after giving-up a leadoff walk to Tulowitzki to begin the 7th, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to the reliable Dellin Betances to protect the two-run lead. Kevin Pillar nearly tied the game with a deep drive to left-centre field, but the unique dimensions of Yankee Stadium allowed the ball to stay in the park for Brett Gardner. Although the game could have been tied if played at the Rogers Centre, the Jays remained down 2-0.
Dickey came out for the 7th with an unusual defender behind him. On what appeared to be an innocent play, Tulowitzki seemed to injure himself after sliding into 2nd during the previous inning. He did not require a pinch runner, but did not come out to field in the bottom half. With Darwin Barney removed from the game in favour of pinch hitter Justin Smoak, it was catcher Russell Martin playing second base behind R.A. Dickey, and Ryan Goins taking over at shortstop. The Yankees lead was quickly extended, starting with Dustin Ackley beating Dickey to the bag for a leadoff single. A pair of groundouts preceded a two-out walk from Didi Gregorius, which put runners on the corners with two-out. Austin Romine quickly cranked a ground-rule double to right field, extending the Yankees lead to 3-0 and ending Dickey's evening in the process. Right-handed reliever Joe Biagini entered with two-on and two-out, but immediately surrendered an infield single to Jacoby Ellsbury, and just like that the Yankees boasted a commanding 4-0 lead.
New York's relievers continued to silence the Blue Jays bats late in the game, and the Bronx Bombers continued to pile on the runs in the eighth. Jesse Chavez gave up a single and two walks to begin the inning, which brought Pat Venditte into unfavourable circumstances. A sacrifice fly and two-out single made it 6-0, before 24-year old Luis Cessa preserved the shutout for the Yankees in the bottom half.
No player earned "Jay of the Day" honours, with Tulowitzki boasting the highest mark of 0.76. Get better soon Troy. On the side, Encarnacion (-130), Saunders (-.108), Pillar (-.107) posted rough WPA numbers for the evening. Although he pitched in a low-leverage situation, Jesse Chavez was also the opposite of good.