The chase begins. The Yankees are North of the Border once again to face their biggest division rivals this season, seeing if they can close the gap between them. Tonight didn’t help the Yankees in the long run.
Adam Warren said later he tried to hard to find the “perfect pitch” instead of trusting his stuff in the 1st inning. And if that’s the case, I doubt he’d make the same mistake in his next outing. But I can’t imagine this outing overall would be one he’d want to remember — 82 pitches in just 3.1 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs, striking out 5 Toronto batters. To be fair, most of the “giving up” was done in that awful 1st inning. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on a hit-by-pitch and then scored on another single. A wild pitch moved up the runners to scoring position where one scored on a ground out and the other on a solid RBI double. Warren finally settled down himself, but the damage was done, and the stage was now set for the soaring Blue Jays.
In the 4th inning, the rotation of relievers began from the Yankee bullpen. First, James Pazos finished off the 2 outs of the 4th inning in just 4 pitches (just stellar!). Caleb Cotham’s outing in the 5th and into the 6th was also rather perfect, complete with 2 strikeouts. Chasen Shreve struggled some once again to finish the 6th by first loading the bases and then getting that final out. Branden Pinder’s 7th inning outing was regrettable, loading the bases with a walk, a double, and an intentional walk. Pinder was pulled without recording an out, and his relief Andrew Bailey was up for the task, save a sacrifice fly that scored just 1 run. Bailey came back in the 8th and shut the Blue Jays down.
The Yankees faced one of those pitchers in the AL that has had mixed results in the past — a good night (for him) is brutal, and a bad night (again for him) is just fantastic for Yankee batters. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Toronto starter had a very good night, keeping the Yankees to just 2 hits and a walk, and no runs scored, striking out 7 batters in his 7 innings (though the Yankees pushed up his pitch count to 114 pitches).
Once he was out of the game, the Yankees took advantage of the Blue Jays’ weak spot — their bullpen. In the 8th, with a new pitcher Gregorius led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Ackley’s single. The Blue Jays weren’t taking any chances and called in a new pitcher, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s single scored Gregorius before that pitcher got 3 consecutive strikeouts (though I do question the strike zone on a few of those, as did the batters through the evening, I might add). A new pitcher in the 9th tried to keep the Yankees from a last-minute rally, but Greg Bird smacked a big 2-out home run off the center field wall. But it wasn’t going to be enough.
Final score: 4-2 Toronto.
Award season already… it’s already time to start fan-voting again. A few Yankees have been nominated for some awards this off-season, as a result of their 2015 performances. Both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have been nominated for the 2015 Esurance MLB Award for the Best Bounceback Player, for obvious reasons. Andrew Miller is nominated for the Best Breakout Player. The annual collection of awards honor great achievements across MLB in categories like The Best Everyday Player, Starting Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Breakout Player, Bounceback Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality, postseason performer, best offensive play, defensive play, Moment, single-game performance, Social Media Post, Celebrity Fan, Fan Catch, Interview, TV call, radio call, Player-Fan Interaction, Video Board Moment, and Trending Topic. Some topics will be available for voting at a later date. (You can vote as a fan here. I did.)