Game 6: NYY vs. TOR — Real turf makes Headley & McCann really good at their jobs

The Yankees don’t usually under the dome of Rogers Centre. I’ve always chalked it up to the awful turf (mixed in with some “passionate” fans). So this year, the Blue Jays did the smart thing and put in real dirt on their field, and suddenly, the Yankees take the first game of this midweek series. Yes, I’m thinking the turf thing may have been the reason all along. (Let me live in my fantasy world.)

Anyway, the snow preceded the team when they landed in Toronto a couple days ago after the postponement of their final game in Detroit. Maybe it was the weather, but they can’t blame it on hockey this year. Oddly, Canadians have no team in their postseason this year, which begins tomorrow night. But Rogers Centre featured a lot of empty blue seats tonight, as it was only about half-full (my mixed analogy means I’m an optimistic cynic, by the way). And for some reason this allowed fans with too much time on their hands (and perhaps too much of that Canadian beer) to be too “passionate” with their hands in a few other people’s faces in the 3rd base line seats before being escorted out by some “unpassionate” security officers.

Oh, and the Yankees were in town to actually play a game and test out the new dirt and field with Masahiro Tanaka to start tonight’s game. Tanaka only went 5 innings once again, giving up 3 hits and a whopping 4 walks. But he still managed to keep the Blue Jays to minimal scoring (just 2 runs), getting out of several tight jams between his 6 strike outs and some freakishly amazing defense (led in particular tonight by Chase Headley). In fact, the only hits and runs the entire night for the Blue Jays were off Tanaka.

The runs came in one fell swoop in the 3rd, Tanaka put 2 runners on base with no outs with a hit-by-pitch and a single. Both scored on a solid RBI double. A strikeout, a walk later, and a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild later, Tanaka gets out of the inning with a beautiful ball hit into a near-textbook perfect double play.

In the mean time, the Yankees offense struck first in the 2nd inning. Brian McCann led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Beltran’s ground out, was joined on the base paths with Headley’s walk, advanced (with Headley) on a bad throwing error on a pick-off attempt (really, Toronto? McCann’s the slowest guy on the team), and then scored on Starlin Castro’s ground out.

Then it was Brian McCann again to tie up the game in the 6th with a big 2-out solo home run. (Statistic alert: McCann has scored 10 total runs for the Yankees this year already; no other player has scored more than 5.)

So, with Tanaka out and the game tied, the Yankees turned to Johnny Barbato, who is turning into one of those super smart Spring selections. He breezed through his 6th inning in 16 pitches, walking one batter but getting the 3 outs needed with no further trouble.

At the top of the next inning, the Yankees decided to make a push for the win with Headley’s lead-off single and Castro’s walk. Both runners were moved into scoring position with Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt, but only Headley would score on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single when another pitching change ended their attempt for an insurance run.

Trusty reliever Shreve came on for a couple outs in the 7th and gave up the odd walk (are you seeing an odd trend too?) before being replaced by Betances to finish up the 7th and breeze through the 8th, adding 3 more strikeouts to his (and the game’s) total. And then it was “Miller time” (yes, the beer jokes during his innings still plague my news feed, who earned his 2nd save of the season with a quick 12-pitch 9th inning, adding 2 more strike outs.

There were 10 total walks issued (6 by Yankees pitchers), and 20 total strikeouts (11 by Yankees pitchers). The biggest difference between the pitching staffs in the end was that the Yankees got 7 hits off the Toronto staff, where the Blue Jays only got 3.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees.

News from the farm: Nick Rumbelow was pulled from AAA lineup over the weekend and sent to the doctor for tests. Since then, the Yankees determined the young reliever will need to undergo Tommy John surgery. The surgery will be performed Friday at New York Presbyterian by the Yankees team doctor Dr. Ahmad. General recovery time from Tommy John surgery is 12-18 months, thus ending his 2016 season and dipping into the 2017 season for Rumbelow. See you in 2017!

Also, McCann took a foul ball off his toe (and still hit a home run in this game), and the Yankees sent him for tests as a precaution. After a flouroscope (an x-ray type test) came back negative, he was diagnosed with a bruise, a diagnosis that McCann and the Yankees were much more comfortable with. (Okay, and that’s it for scary injuries please!)

Go Yankees!

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