Game 119: TOR vs. NYY — A delay can change everything

Before tonight’s game, dark clouds hovered close by. And like it does so frequently for these late summer storms in New York, the air was sticky and humid. The actual temperature and “feels like temperature” were miles apart. So when the rain began to drizzle, it was a bit of a relief. Even when the skies began to thunder and lightning and the heavens opened up, the change in the atmosphere was rather foreshadowing of things to come. Sometimes, a 42 minute rain delay can change everything.

Things started off rather well for the Yankees actually. Starter Michael Pineda was in fine form tonight, throwing just 68 pitches through his 5 innings, giving up just 4 hits and no walks, striking out just 2 Toronto batters, but keeping them completely scoreless. It was rather fun to watch actually.

The Yankees batters were slowly racking up the points. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Didi Gregorius got things started with a solo shot to 2nd deck in right field. Then repeating the pattern in the 2nd, Gary Sanchez hit a 2-out solo home run to the visitor’s bull pen. With 2 outs and Castro and McCann on base with singles in the 4th, Sanchez again hit a monster home runto safely ensure the Yankee lead as the darkening skies actually started raining as if in response. (Baby Bombers, indeed!)

So with the Yankees up 5-0, in the middle of the 5th, the Blue Jays taking their positions on the field, but the umpires, realizing that the rain was getting worse, called for the tarp. Both Pineda and the Toronto starter were done with that long of a delay. Which was a shame for the Yankees. Not so much for the Blue Jays.

Well, they did add a bit in the bottom of the 5th when the delay was over. With 2 outs (because how else did the Yankees set up their scoring tonight?), Headley doubled and then scored on Gregorius’ single.

And you’re thinking (like everyone else was at this point): 6-0 lead, sounds good to me. Now just close up this puppy and we can go home. And you’d be wrong, of course. Because the delay seemed to remind the Blue Jays they were at risk of losing the lead in the AL East, and they came back screaming and kicking as only the Blue Jays can.

The Yankees bullpen with few exceptions certainly took quite a hit tonight. Anthony Swarzak came on for the 6th. A lead-off double scored on an RBI single complicated by a throwing error. Then Swarzak zoned in to get 2 great strikeouts. But a big 2-run home run edged the Jays closer, only to be followed up immediately by a solo shot. That was it for Swarzak, and Tommy Layne came in to close the inning out cleanly. Then Tyler Clippard sailed his way through the 7th inning in 14 pitches and 2 strikeouts, giving Yankee fans a small modicum of hope.

And then it was Adam Warren for the 8th inning. Warren certainly had an off-night tonight — a lead-off walk, a 2-run home run to tie up the game, a pop-up out, a single, and a 2-run home run to give the Jays the lead. Not exactly a pleasant way to get one out. Chasen Shreve came on and had an even tougher night (another rarity here, really), failing to record even one out. A hit-by-pitch, a walk, and a single loaded the bases. A single scored a run, keeping the bases loaded, and a walk scored another run and kept the bases loaded. (Shreve’s theme tonight apparently.) Blake Parker came on to get those final 2 outs, but it wasn’t as clean as necessary — a fielder’s choice scored one more before a double scored another.

Yes, if you’re capable of following that one, the Blue Jays scored a total of 8 runs in the 8th inning. Parker had an easier time in the 9th, shutting down the Jays in order. But it was much too late to do something like a 7-run home run to win in the final inning of the game.

That rain delay midway through the game certainly divided the game between when the Yankees were in charge to when the Blue Jays took control. You can imagine I liked the first part of the game better.

Final score: 12-6 Blue Jays.

Okay, so I might have underestimated a recent injury report. Nathan Eovaldi‘s elbow injury is very serious. He has torn the flexor tendon off the bone and damaged the ulnar collateral ligament. This will require 2 surgeries to repair, including his 2nd Tommy John surgery (his first was during high school). He mentioned that the pain was certainly different this time around, more of an annoying ache than sheer pain as it was last time. Due to it being his 2nd TJ surgery, the recovery time could be a bit longer, so he will miss at least 18 months of baseball activity.

So let’s be real here: his 2017 season is going to be watching games from his couch. This does complicate things further because his contract is up at the end of 2017. I don’t see any reason why the Yankees won’t try to negotiate with him for the future as he was one of the better starters in this season (and since the Yankees picked him up). The only reason he might go elsewhere is if the Yankees sign a big name young starter or two between now and the 2018 season.

But who knows? If this game reminds us of anything is that life throws you a curve, and sometimes it just pummels you in the 8th inning, but it’s not about staying there. It’s about getting up, working harder, and getting back in the game to try again. Because one of these days, it’s going to go your way. Because it just has to. It’s how it works.

Go Yankees!

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