The Yankees are on the verge of two accomplishments: one more win or one more Jays’ loss and they’ll lock up the AL East. One more home run and Aaron Judge will be within a dozen of the MLB record and in the top 7 season totals all time, which is neat for him I’m sure. Getting above 60 homers is an accomplishment, Sammy Sosa only managed it three times and he was almost a hall of famer.
Anyway, the Blue Jays denied them both for one more day at least. The pitching staff was brilliant, and Vlad finally came through with the huge clutch hit that’s seemed to elude him for half the season. The Jays’ own magic number ticks down to three, and could go to two if the Red Sox can keep reeling in the Orioles in their game. (As I write this, they’re coming up in the bottom of the fifth after a long rain delay)
The Yankees struck first. Aaron Judge lead off with a line single to right field, and Anthony Rizzo followed with a ground ball up the first base line for a double to move Judge to 3rd. Gleyber Torres brought Judge in on a sac fly.
They’d add a second in the second, when Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a two out solo shot over the left-centre wall. That was all Gausman would surrender, though. He walked Judge to lead off the third, but erased him with a Rizzo double play, and including Rizzo sat down nine Yankees batters in a row. His defence gave him the support he needed, including a very nice over the shoulder basket catch by Vlad Guerrero jr. in the fourth inning to retire Giancarlo Stanton:
as well as a very nice George Springer catch on a sinking liner by Jose Trevino to end the fifth. The Yankees threatened in the sixth, with back to back one out line singles by Rizzo and Torres, but Gausman won a long battle with Josh Donaldson to strike him out and then repeated the act against Stanton. Gausman returned for the top of the seventh, but faced only two batters. He have up a ground ball single to Oswaldo Cabrera and struck out Harrison Bader for his seventh of the night and 201st of the season. It was a very solid effort against an excellent offence, surrendering two runs on six hits and a walk against seven strikeouts in six and a third.
Adam Cimber took over and got Kiner-Falefa with the help of a beautiful Matt Chapman play coming in on a slow chopper towards short. He flashed some defensive skills himself to snag a hard grounder back over the mound by Trevino that would easily have gotten into centre and given the Yankees the go-ahead run.
On the other side, Luis Severino made his second appearance back from a 60-day IL stint for a lat strain (which he insists was not necessary), and was probably operating on a shorter than normal leash as a result. He was pumping his usual 99mph gas, but also battled his command. He didn’t give up a hit in the first three innings, and struck out three in the process, but he did issue two walks the first time through the order.
The Jays got on top of him in the fourth. Bo Bichette won a long battle leading off, eventually lining a single to right. Vlad ripped a one-hopper right at Kiner-Falefa, but the Yankees shortstop couldn’t handle the 112mph bullet and both runners were safe. Kirk then loaded the bases with his second walk of the evening. After a Matt Chapman pop out, Teoscar Hernandez launched one to centre field that was short of a grand slam by maybe three inches:
As it was, it went off the top of the wall for a double that scored Bo and Vlad to tie the game at 2. Severino popped up Raimel Tapia and froze Danny Jansen to escape the jam without surrendering a lead, but the inning cost him 35 pitches and knocked him out of the game.
The Yankees bullpen was its usual stingy self. Lou Trivino worked around a Bichette ground ball single to work a scoreless bottom of the fifth. Scott Effross did the same in the bottom of the sixth.
The bullpens traded scoreless innings from this point. The Jays had an opportunity in the seventh, as Jansen reached with a single of Ron Marinaccio and beat the throw to second on a Whit Merrifield fielder’s choice ball to short to put two men on with one out. The Yankees changed pitchers to Jonathan Loaisiga, who escaped the jam with a strikeout and a ground out. Yimi Garcia hit Rizzo in the pants leg in the top of the eigth, but Danny Jansen gunned him down stealing second and Garcia was able to K the other two batters. Loaisiga came back for the bottom half of that inning and surrendered an infield hit to Chapman but nothing else.
Both teams went to their closers in the ninth, and both delivered 1-2-3 innings in their signature styles. Jordan Romano struck out the side, while Clay Holmes got three routine ground outs.
John Schneider went a bit galaxy brained in the tenth. Anthony Bass struck out two of the first three batters he faced, but walked Kiner-Falefa to bring Judge to the plat. Schneider called for Tim Mayza, who he had intentionally walk Judge to load the bases but draw a lefty-lefty matchup with Rizzo. Buck Martinez loved the move, which was concerning, but it worked. Rizzo grounded out to first to leave it tied.
Clarke Schmidt got the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the tenth. Springer struck out, and Bichette flew out to the track in right. That just set the stage for Vlad:
Jays of the Day: All the pitchers. Bass(0.190), Romano (0.131), Mayza (0.115), and Cimber (0.103) both had the number. Gausman and Garcia didn’t quite but both deserve the honour for pitching well in a very tight game. On offence, Vlad (0.386) and Teo (0.140)
Suckage: Springer (-0.237), Chapman (-0.131), Bichette (-0.113), and Tapia (-0.212)
Game two of the series will pit Jameson Taillon (13-5, 3.90) against Jose Berrios (11-6, 5.27). It goes at 7:07pm ET tomorrow night.