Game 102: TOR vs. NYY — Keeping the streak alive in home run country

Apparently, the Yankees have somewhat of a winning streak at home against the Blue Jays, 17 games to be exact, dating back to 2012. It’s the kind of streak that I’m very much interested in watching grow and increase.

Tonight was the first of a 3-game weekend series against Toronto at Yankee Stadium, and so far since the All-Star Break, the Yankees are on a bit of a hot streak of their own, winning 8 of their last 9 games, including tonight’s game. (Spoiler alert: the Yankees won tonight!)

And to start was Hiroki Kuroda, the last remaining starter on the rotation. Kuroda threw 94 pitches over 5.2 innings, allowed 8 hits and 4 runs, striking out 3 batters. The biggest hit to his stats came right in the 1st inning — with 2 runners on base and just 1 out, a batter hit a solid 3-run home run to put the Jays on the board quickly 3-0. The same batter hit a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd inning to give the Blue Jays their 4 total runs.

In the meantime, the Yankees racked up their own runs, including two home runs of their own. First, in the 2nd, bases loaded with no outs, Brian Roberts singled home a runner, and Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly hit in another. Then in the 3rd, Carlos Beltran hits a solo home run into the left field seats. And then with 2 runners on base, Ichiro Suzuki hits a 3-run home run (and his first home run of the season). Suddenly, the Yankees are up 6-4 in just the 3rd inning.

So it was up to both teams’ bullpens to keep the other team at that score, something both did fairly well. For the Yankees, it was Huff in relief of Kuroda to close the 6th and 2 outs in the 7th, before Kelley got the last out of the 7th. Betances and Robertson pulled off their regular magic act once again in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively. (Favorite play of the night: Betances-McCann jump grab tandem out at 1st base in the 8th inning.) And it was the Yankees game to win and keep that Blue Jays’ losing streak alive in the Bronx.

Before the game, Brett Gardner was awarded the 2014 Yankees’ Heart & Hustle Award, an award given to a player on each team with a passion for baseball and the best representative of “the values, spirit, and tradition of the game”. The award is voted on by former players and awarded annually since 2005. This is Gardner’s third year receiving the award; he also won in 2010 and 2013. (Other Yankee winners include Derek Jeter in 2006 and 2008 and Mariano Rivera in 2007.)  One overall winner is then selected by the alumni at the end of the year. Personally, I think Gardner is the perfect choice once again for this year’s award.

Gardner, as if he needed to further prove he deserved the award, spent today visiting with about 200 young campers from the Yankees special baseball camp. Every summer, the Yankees offer the opportunity to local Little Leaguers (ages 5-13) to participate in a week-long baseball camp session around the New York area. During the session, they practice baseball skills and work on their game, all in Yankee pinstripes. Every session ends with a tour of the Stadium and a chance to meet a current Yankee player. And today, it was Brett Gardner to answer questions and hang out with the kids, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

It’s always nice to see the Yankees doing what they do best, led today by someone like Brett Gardner — give back to the community and then go win a game. It was a pretty good Friday in the Bronx.

Go Yankees!

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