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Semien leads 6-3 Jays win over Yankees

7th straight win pulls the Jays to within 1.5 games of Yankees and wild card

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Blue Jays 6 at Yankees 3

This evening in Florida, the (Dunedin) Blue Jays visited Tampa to take on the Yankees low-A affiliate. They jumped out to an early three run lead, saw it slip away in the middle innings to a tie game after six innings, and then turn into a three run deficit before mounting a furious five run rally to pull out an 11-8 win in the 9th.

A few thousand kilometres north, the first few elements were unfolding in a similar manner, but ultimately the Jas didn’t require quite the same dramatics to also a secure a three run win over the Yankees. In the end, the four hour game was a bit of a slog, but a 6-3 win extends the winning streak to seven and leaves the Jays just 1.5 games behind the Yankees, now relegated back behind the Red Sox in the second wild card position.

Yankees starter Luis Gil spent his entire outing straddling the line between electric and ineffective. His raw stuff was top notch, with upper-90s heat and a tight, upper-80s slider that allowed him to pile up six strikeouts and allow just one single. But while he often wasn’t missing by much, but he couldn’t consistently find the zone and issued seven walks over 3.1 innings. Alas, the Jays largely didn’t capitalize and there were no runs on the board whe he departed (though he would end up with three charged).

It started in the first inning as Gil walked Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. back-to-back. Gil was able to lean on his slider, getting Bo Bichette out in front for a weak flyout and Teoscar Hernandez to swing and miss at a very good one to get out of the jam. He then struck out the side in order in the second.

The third was similar to the first, with this time Danny Jansen and Semien walking, before Vladdy smashed a hard (116 MPH) ground ball single to load the bases with one out. But once again, the same guys couldn’t get the job done. Bichette got ahead 2-1, but hit a comebacker that Gil bobbled and was the only thing to prevent a 1-2-3 double play. Alas, Teoscar struck out again.

The Jays finally broke though in the fourth, as Gil retired Ajejandro Kirk leading off but walked the 7-8-9 hitters to end his night. Lucas Luetge’s first pitch went to backstop to plate the the first run. Corey DIckerson popped out and failed to get the runner home from third, but Semien picked him up with a two run line drive single on which he was thrown out trying to extend it to a double to end the inning.

The Jays should probably have tacked on more against Luetge in the 5th as he was very wild. Vladdy chased a 3-1 pitch and grounded out, which prevented the bases being loaded with none out as Bichette and Teoscar walked behind him (the latter grinding out a 13 pitch at-bat). But he wriggled out without further damage.

For his part, Alex Manoah’s stuff wasn’t as dynamic, but he had very good command of his fastball. He too worked out of some early jams, almost working a very quick inning after two groundouts, but couldn’t put away Anthony RIzzo who finally managed to flip a very good two strike changeup off the plate into left field. Giancarlo Stanton then dunked an even softer liner into right field. Ironically, the best hit ball of the inning ended it, as DJ LeMahieu squared up a hard line drive but right at Teoscar Hernandez.

Manoah’s control briefly deserted him in the second, with five of his first six missing the zone as he walked the ice cold Joey Gallo. He erased that as the Jays just barely turned a nifty 5-4-3 double play on a softish ground ball. And from that point, he was in cruise control retiring eight straight with uniformly weak contact through the end of the 4th inning.

One thing that really stuck out with how much he used his change-up. For the most part, it wasn’t a huge weapon, but it was consistently an average to above average offering that kept the Yankees off balance.

If there was one issue with Manoah’s outing, it was that he didn’t really have put=away stuff. That showed up in the box score (three walks and just four strikeouts in 5.2 innings), but also cost a few times. He couldn’t put away Rizzo in the first, and it extended the inning. It but him much harder in the 5th. The first mistake was walking Rougned Odor, bringing the tying run to the plate and allowing the lineup to turn over. He got ahead of Brett Gardner, but again couldn’t put him away and eventually he caught a fastball over the plate and smashed it for a game tying home run.

Fortunately, the bullpen was outstanding. Manoah almost got through the 6th, but walked Gallo again to end his night. Trevor Richards struck out Gary Sanchez to end the threat, and got two outs in the 7th around a walk. Adam CImber ended that inning with another strikeout, and pitched around a single in the 8th with two more strikeouts and a popout.

That allowed the offense to chip against the Yankee pen with individual tallies in each of the last three innings to go ahead and give some breathing room. In the 7th, Semien beat out an infield single, advancing on a ill-advised throw. With two out, Teoscar atoned for some of the earlier stranded runners but cashing him with a single.

Lourdes Gurriel led off the 8th by banging a fly ball just fair off the short porch in right field, ending up at third after it bounced away from Judge. Jake Lamb quickly cashed him with a sac fly. Aroldis Chapman came out for the 9th, and generally didn’t look great and didn’t even make it through the inning. But his stuff is still huge even when not at its best best, so it was nonetheless breathtaking when Vladdy turned on a fastball and absolutely obliterated a 113 PH missile out down the left field line:

You absolutely hate to see it happen to such a standup guy.

Jordan Romano secured the save, assisted by Jarrod Dyson running down a fliner in the left-centre gap that he had no business getting near.

Jays of the Day: Semien (+0.323 WPA), Cimber (+0.145), and Richards (+0.122). Let’s give one to Vladdy too for reaching three times and absolutely obliterating Chapman. Gurriel (+0.186) had the number but most of that for scoring on the wild pitch.

Suckage: By the numbers, Bichette (-0.168), Dickerson (-0.138), Kirk (-0.107) and even Manoah (-0.085) were close. And a couple of the hitters probably deserve them, but they pulled it out so let’s go with none.

Tomorrow, the Jays will go for the sweep (!!!) at the usual 7:05 EDT start time, looking to pull within a half game of the Yankees for the second wild card. Deadline acquisition Jose Berrios is scheduled to take on LHP Nestor Cortes Jr and his 2.67 ERA.