Blue Jays 5 at Yankees 2
Coming off two big wins to start the series, the Jays were in tough Saturday afternoon with a pitching matchup of one of baseball’s best starters in Gerrit Cole against their fifth start Mitch White. Add to that fielding something of a “B” lineup with both George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. out, and while it would be a bit much to say they were punting this, it did seem like they were conceding the uphill odds. And yet when the dust settled, the Jays had their fourth straight win.
White turned in a serviceable job in holding the Yankees to one run over 4 innings, turning over the order twice. He was in trouble almost the whole time, giving up a fair share of hard contact and seven hits, with multiple batters reaching in every inning save the 3rd. But buckled down and made some big pitches when it really mattered, including 5 strikoeuts. And it really helped didn’t compound the damage by issuing any free passes.
The lone run came in the 2nd inning, when Jose Trevino clubbed a one out double. Bo Bichette couldn’t handle a ground ball by Isaiah Kiner-Falefa and was charged with an error, though Trevino didn’t advance. He nonetheless scored a batter later as Estevan Florial singled to break the scoreless tie.
For his part, Cole was dominant in the early going, and a sharp slider and upper 90s heat making mincemeat of the Jays batting order. The only batters to reach were two out free passes in the 2nd and 4th. He was helped by some very good defensive plays behind him, with Aaron Judge picking a double off the wall and Oswaldo Cabrera diving past the tarp to get a popup almost out of play, his head banging into the padded wall.
That changed in the 5th against the bottom of the lineup the second time through. With one, Cole fell behind Santiago Espinal who hunted fastball and tomahawking one left at the top of the zone for a double. Danny Jansen worked a walk, bringing up Jackie Bradley Jr. before the lineup turned over. JBJ hooked a ball into the left field corner, plating both runner to put the Jays ahead.
Raimel Tapia followed by beating out an infield single to get Bradley 90 feet away as a critical insurance run with just one out and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up. He didn’t execute, tapping a slider back to the mound, but Cole mishandled it and replay showed Vladdy just beat it out to load the bases.
That brought up Alejandro Kirk, who had probably the at-bat of that game. Cole painted a fastball, then Kirk laid off a borderline breaking ball before a foul off put him down 1-2. He laid off another tough borderline slider before fouling off one that was more over the plate. Stayed alive allowed him to see a fastball, driving it to left-centre and just past the glove of Andre Benintendi and rolling to the fence. With Bradley having to wait up on third to tag if it was caught, Tapia was backed up behind him, so rounding third Vladdy was 10 feet right behind him on his tail. The former got in safely, the latter was out, but the Jays had a 4-1 lead.
With White done, Adam Cimber came in for the 5th and cut through the heart of the order on just 11 pitches with two strikeouts. With five innings to navigate, sending Cimber back out against the bottom half of the lineup seemed like a no-brainer especially with Jordan Romano’s availability in question. But instead it was David Phelps in for the 6rh. It looked even more questionable after Phelps walked the second batter and Anthony Bass started warming, raising the spectre of a mid-inning change if he got into more trouble, and then an even tougher task to get the end.
But he recovered to strike out the bottom two hitters, and Bass instead worked around a one out walk for a scoreless 7th. Zach Pop got the 8th and should have had a clean inning, but a lazy 340 fly foot to right carried into the first row for a Yankee Stadium special. Chapman got it back in the top of the 9th with an absolute bomb 430 feet to dead centre. It’s patently absurd that both count the same, but we can look past it after Yimi Garcia nailed down the win in the 9th.
Jays of the Day: Only Bradley (+0.234 WPA) by the numbers, but we’ll give one to the bullpen collectively (+0.1975) for what should have been five shutout innings anywhere else. And a hat tip to Mitch White (+0.066)
Suckage: None. Though I kinda feel like Schneider should have one for the Cimber pull.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to complete the four game sweep behind Alek Manoah, as he facing off against Nestor Cortes in a dandy matchup of two starters with sub-3.00 ERAs at 1:35 EDT.