What a wild ride.
Tuesday’s game between Toronto and New York moved at a brisk pace for the first seven or so innings, with the teams keeping it within one run. But the ninth inning proved for quite a show. After the Yankees took a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Dellin Betances was summoned to the mound. He ended up throwing 40 pitches and only got one out after two infield singles from Edwin Encarnacion and Melvin Upton. Blake Parker entered and pulled a Houdini when he struck out Kevin Pillar looking and got Justin Smoak to fly out after Brett Gardner leapt at the wall to make a fantastic, snow-cone catch.
The Yankees also almost blew this one in the eighth. Due to some inexplicably bad bullpen management from Joe Girardi, Betances was not brought into a tight situation in the eighth for a four-out save. Though Betances had pitched each of the last two days, he had only thrown a combined 22 pitches in those appearances and before that hadn’t appeared in a game since Aug. 31. Girardi instead turned to youngster Ben Heller, who may end up as a very good pitcher eventually, but predictably gave up the go-ahead double to Pillar in this situation. The offense bailed him out in the bottom of the inning, however.
The fourth-place Yankees are now 4 1/2 games out of first, and closer to the top than any other second place team in the majors except San Francisco, pending Tuesday night’s results.
THE PLAY: GET OUT OF MY LABORATORY (+.432)
Before all the madness in the ninth, but after Girardi’s dumb bullpen moves, Didi said “What does this button do?” Well, it tied the score at four apiece. Over a leaping Kevin Pillar, who had given Toronto the lead in the top half of the inning, went Didi’s triple.
Blue Jays — Kevin Pillar: 3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Yankees — Tyler Austin: 1-for-2, 1 HR, 2 RBI
— Luis Cessa made his fourth start of 2016 for the Yankees, giving up two runs in 5.1 innings while striking out three and walking two. In 23.1 innings as a starter this season, Cessa has given up eight earned runs, good for a 3.09 ERA.
— September baseball! The Yankees used eight pitchers tonight, and five of them combined for a two-thirds of an inning. The other 8 1/3 innings were handled by Cessa (5.1), Adam Warren (2.1) and Blake Parker (0.2).
— Gary Sanchez was hit on the wrist on a vicious Josh Donaldson backswing late in the game, but stayed in without injury. It’s something that may bear watching in the future though as the Yankees’ playoff chase heats up. Additionally, Edwin Encarnacion appeared to draw a catcher’s interference in the ninth, though it was not called. Sanchez went 1-for-4 in Tuesday’s contest.
THE HIGHLIGHT: Gardner saves the day
THE HIGHLIGHT (Pt. II): BIRTHDAY BOMB
On the day he turned 25, Tyler Austin showed some serious opposite field power when he launched an absolute shot to the right field bleachers. It was the second home run of his young career and, coming after other #BabyBomber Aaron Judge singled with two outs, ultimately proved the difference on Tuesday’s contest. The last Yankee to homer on his birthday was Alex Rodriguez in 2011.
The Yankees will conclude their series with the Blue Jays on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Marcus Stroman (9-6, 4.58 ERA) will take on Bryan Mitchell, who is making his 2016 debut after spending most of the season on the DL with a broken toe.
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