Game 26: TOR vs. NYY — The better kind of drama

There’s a lot of drama going on in the AL East, and because of the kind of drama, I can’t say I’m sad that’s someone else’s job to talk about. Not that the Yankees are without their dramatic moments, they just aren’t using them to stir up an unnecessary rivalry or possibly injure their players. No, the Yankees like to create drama the old-fashioned way — by coming from behind for a dramatic win on the backs of their young batters.

It certainly makes things easier on me, and it’s a whole lot more fun to talk about.

Part of the drama of today’s finale against the visiting Blue Jays is that neither starter had the greatest outing, which had dueling advantages and disadvantages for both teams — bad pitching means the other team has fun hitting. CC Sabathia was the one who got the start tonight, throwing 84 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 7 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and striking out 5 Toronto batters. (And to be perfectly fair, he certainly pitched better than his counterpart, though that’s not saying much.)

Even then, the Blue Jays only really made an impact in the first part of the game, but it was a pretty big one. Sabathia gave up 2 consecutive singles to open the game before getting 2 outs. Another single scored the first runner before a big 3-run home run (that same pesky guy from last night too!) jumped the Blue Jays into a big lead. In the 2nd, with 1 out and bases loaded, a walk scored another Toronto run and a fielder’s choice scored one more.

But then that was it. It was as if collectively the Blue Jays decided to stop scoring runs and the Yankees decided to stop letting them. Of course, Sabathia also began to fall into a groove and, despite leaving 2 runners on base in the 5th, handed the game to the bullpen who pretty much sailed through the rest of the game. Adam Warren finished up the 5th in just 13 pitches to get out of the jam. Then Tyler Clippard had a moment of struggles, but got out of it to pitch into the 7th. Betances took over and just sailed through his 4 outs in just 15 pitches, including 2 nasty strikeouts. And Chapman threw a near-flawless 9th inning to earn his 6th save of the year .

Yes, I did say “save” because they Yankees, down from the beginning of the game, didn’t let a pesky little thing like a lead stop them from advancing, and advancing, and tying up the game, and then winning it. No, this is the Yankees, and there were some milestones to hit tonight.

Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a single, Hicks walked, and they both scored as part of Matt Holliday’s 300th career home run, a big 3-run home run. And in the 3rd, Castro led-off with a single and then scored with Aaron Judge’s 2-run home run (his 13th of the season, more later). As that would be it under the Blue Jays’ starter (putting them within a single run of the Blue Jays’ lead), the Yankees progressively worked on their offense until the time came.

After Girardi was ejected in the 7th for “arguing balls and strikes” (which admittedly was a bit wonky tonight), the Yankees took the bottom half of that inning to make their final move. With 1 out, Judge singled (his 3rd hit of the night) and moved to 3rd on Headley’s double. Chris Carter’s single scored Judge to tie up the game, and Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley to put the Yankees in the lead. After a brief challenge, the call for Gregorius’ single was upheld (rightly so), and the Blue Jays changed pitchers again.

After another out, the Yankees loaded the bases courtesy of Gardner’s walk. Aaron Hicks then followed suit by working his own walk to scored the insurance run in Carter. A fielder’s choice ended the rally. But the Yankees were firmly in the lead, and pitching by Betances and Chapman was just on point, leaving no hope for a last-minute rally for the visitors from north of the border.

Final score: 8-6 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

Okay, some milestones: Joe Girardi got his first ejection of the year, though to be fair, these don’t happen very often for the mild-mannered manager (just 33 in his tenure as manager in 11 seasons). Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run in the 1st inning tonight, continuing to contribute in the usual Holliday way — with big timely hits and home runs (in other words, being the DH he was hired to be).

And tonight, we celebrate Aaron Judge. Today, MLB named Judge the American League Rookie of the Month. And if you don’t know why, then you’ve been watching the hockey playoffs or golfing or something else because Judge is the thing everyone in the baseball world is talking about right now. For every game, there’s a new random statistic for his scary skills as a ballplayer. Like tonight, Judge, at age 25, became the youngest player to his 13 home runs in their first 26 games. Names like Ruth, Maris, Berra, Rodriguez, Jeter, and (especially) Mantle get thrown in with Judge now as if it’s an everyday thing. And well, with Judge these days, it kind of is.

That’s my kind of normal…

Well, Judge made my All-Star Game ballot. Did he make yours? Don’t forget to vote your five times today.

Go Yankees!

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