Beating the Yankees is always in style, but it's some special kind icing on top when it's the 5th straight victory over them in a week to complete a sweep in a whitewashing to boot. Though the 7-0 final score belies how close things were for most of the game, the Blue Jays pulled away late with the bats tacking on runs to mostly spare the bullpen and their fans some late white knuckle innings.
In the early going, neither starting pitcher was very sharp as both needed over 50 pitches to get through the first three innings and worked around quite a few baserunners. Masahiro Tanaka gave up singles in each of the first two innings, and gave up another two to start the 3rd on ground balls to short that Didi Gregorius couldn't come up with. It was the Jays best opportunity to score early, but Tanaka wriggled out of it with three pretty hard hit balls in the air to Jacoby Ellsbury in centre. Even the baserunners, the Jays were largely failing to punish Tanaka for his mistakes.
Aaron Sanchez, meanwhile, was struggling to consistently stay in the strikezone, almost like he had been teleported back to 2015. He fell behind quite a bit, a lot of three ball and deep counts. After a clean first, he allowed two batters to reach in each of the next two innings, but worked out of both innings with swinging strikeouts to end them. It continued with a one out double in the 4th, but then something seemed to click for Sanchez, as he was much better from then on.
He got out of the 4th with back to back strikeouts. Gregosius was first dispatched with back to back devastating curveballs on which he simply had no chance. Chase Headley fared no better first on a 94 MPH fastball with just stupid arm side break, and then went down swinging on another of those curveballs (each of the innings to this point ended on a strikeout). Sanchez ran into some trouble with two outs in the 5th, giving up a walk and single before Brian McCann flew out on a pitch that was squared up pretty hard, but right at Jose Bautista in right field. He then cruised through a clean 6th inning.
Meanwhile, the Jays finally broke through in the bottom of the 5th. Darwin Barney (who else?) lead off with a single and advance to second on a Bautista ground out. Josh Donaldson fell behind 1-2, but stayed on a slider and flicked it the opposite way for a base hit. Barney rounded for home, drawing a throw which was cut to get Donaldson ill-advisedly trying to advance (it looked like Barney would have been easily safe). That more or less ended the rally, but did put the Jays up 1-0.
That lead was padded in the 6th, as Michael Saunders smashed a leadoff double. Justin Smoak hit a pretty routine fly ball to Ellsbury, who scrambled and had the ball fall out his glove, then he bobbled it twice more to put runners on 1s and 3rd with none out. Russell Martin got Saunders home, albeit by grounding into the old 4-3-6 unconventional non-force double play. In other news, Justin Smoak is still very slow.
Sanchez came back out for the 7th at 93 pitches with the bottom of the order up. He got Headley, just gave up back-to-back singles, the latter to Ellsbury as the lineup turned back over for a 4th time. He did retire Brett Gardner before John Gibbons came and got him in to bring in Jason Grilli for his Blue Jays debut. Gibby probably left Sanchez in a couple batters too long, but then again he's seen the bullpen allow so many inherited runners to score. Which it almost seemed like Grilli was bound to do, as he airmailed a pickoff throw into centre before throwing a pitch. Ultimately, he got out of the inning on a pretty hard hit ball by Carlos Beltran. With those runners stranded, Sanchez dropped his ERA to 2.99.
The bottom of the 7th proved decisive, as Joe Girardi opted not to use any of his shutdown troika, and the Blue Jay bats responded by ding something they haven't done nearly as much they should this year in tacking on runs. Kevin Pillar beat out an infield single, and Barney walked, to bring up Bautista. He uncharacteristically swung at ball four and popped out, but Donaldson drew an eight pitch walk to loaded the bases for Edwin Encarnacion. He poked a ground ball up the middle to score two, and then Saunders smashed another double so hard only one run could score. But Smoak followed with another hit, a two run single to make it 7-0.
That was all the scoring, but it allowed John Gibbons to rest the pen and get pitchers some work in low leverage situations. Aaron Loup had an easy, nine pitch 8th inning followed by Ryan Tepera who has a similarly easy 12 pitch 9th inning. Both looked great, and it would be huge if they could be decent options out of the pen.
Hey, what do you know, another nice game graph!
Jays of the Day: Sanchez (+0.365 WPA), and Barney (just +0.094 despite 3/3 with a walk) by the numbers. Saunders was -0.004 despite two doubles, but he gets one too.
Suckage: None. Once again, for the third straight night, only one regular failed to reach base and tonight it was Russell Martin who went 0/4 (only one without a hit in fact) and had the low number at -0.066
Tomorrow the Blue Jays are off (only their third off day in the last five weeks), but they'll be back at it Friday in Fenway at 7:05 eastern as R.A. Dickey faces David Price.