Sometimes, you can blame the field or the timing of the bats or the atmosphere set by the opposing fans. But sometimes, it’s just the pitching. And it wasn’t like the entire game was plagued, just one particular inning. And then it was like a rolling stone — it kept picking up steam until it had gotten totally out of control and took the whole morale with it.
Elsewhere sports fans were saying farewell to a legend (Happy Retirement, Mamba!), but in Toronto for the middle game of this series, the Yankees were rather evenly matched for the better part of the game. Neither starter did exceptional, but enough to keep the scores fairly even, consistent, and low. Michael Pineda got the start for the Yankees, throwing 105 pitches (the most of a Yankee pitcher this season so far) in his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 walks (yes, that is a lot of walks for Pineda, by the way), and 3 runs (just 2 earned), striking out 6 Toronto batters.
Pineda held the Blue Jays to a single run, earned in the 2nd inning — a 1-out walk scored on a 2-out RBI double. (Though that batter would cause plenty of issues for Pineda and his relievers, going 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs tonight.) And the Yankees tied up the score in the 5th with Torreyes’ lead-off double, moving to 3rd on Romine’s single, and then scoring on Aaron Hicks’ ground out.
But Pineda got himself into a sticky situation in the bottom of the 5th. With runners in scoring position with a walk and a double (same guy as before) and no outs, the next batter reaches on a fielding error to score the lead runner and move the other guy to 3rd. The next batter thankfully grounds into a double play; the winning run scores, but another ground out ends the Blue Jays’ mid-game rally attempt.
So into the 7th with the Blue Jays in a slight lead over the Yankees and new pitchers on both mounds. The Yankees send up a reliable find this Spring in the form of Kirby Yates, whose 14-pitch 7th is a thing of beauty, adding his own 2 strikeouts. But the Blue Jays match him and breeze through the rest of the inning themselves.
And onto the 8th inning. The very messy, wish I could “turn back time” and stop it, 8th inning. Well, things started off good with Mark Teixeira’s solo home run off the foul pole screen to put the Yankees within 1 run. But then Ivan Nova just seemed to have a terribly off day, as he took 25 pitches to do this — a double, a wild pitch, an RBI double, a ground out and missed throw, an RBI single, a sac fly scored another run, a hit-by-pitch, an RBI single (same guy as before), and finally a force out at 2nd to mercifully end the inning. (If you lost count, that’s 4 runs off 5 hits in just that inning.)
With the Blue Jays sending up a former Yankees’ farm hand to breeze through the 9th (a switch-thrower, and yes, it’s as cool as it sounds) and keep the Yankees off the bases and shoved into the losing bracket tonight.
Final score: 7-2 Blue Jays.
Roster Update: Well, Yankee fans, the name of an old friend has been swirling around the team gossip for a few weeks now. He made a few recent appearances at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa to work out after being released from his most recent team (the Braves). Yes, it’s officially true today — Nick Swisher is back. Currently, he is signed to a minor league deal and is on his way to play with AAA Scranton in tomorrow’s game. They want to see him work out some at 1st base and in right field to see if he can give them the depth they’re needing behind Teixeira especially.
Swisher has been a fan favorite since he joined the team in a trade with the White Sox after spending the early years of his career with Oakland. Swisher played for the Yankees 2009-2012 and was a crucial part of the 2009 World Series championship team. Swisher then went to the Indians, where after a stint on the DL in 2015, he was traded to the Braves. At the end of Spring Training this year, he found himself unconditionally released before talks began with the Yankees culminating in his contract made official today. Should he not be promoted to the big leagues by June 15, he can opt out of his contract and search for a spot on another team. (But I know some people will be very happy to see Swish back in pinstripes.)
And if you’re wondering, Brian McCann’s bruised toe is just fine. He was ready to jump off the bench tonight and pinch-hit if necessary. He intends to show up for tomorrow’s game ready to start should he be on the schedule. I think the rule for most players if it’s not broken, torn, or falling off, they’re playing. So much for that silly meme I saw recently that proclaimed that athletes in “certain sports” are tougher… I don’t think they’ve ever met a Yankee.