Game 1: Monday, August 15th
Jays lose, 0-1
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Baseball is a funny sport. Some days you can give up four home runs and take a win, other days you can give up one run, strand seven, and be pinned with the loss because you got shut out by a team you’d dominated all year. Now, that’s not to say Dickey had a particularly good game. He only went five innings, gave up four hits (including three doubles) and walked four. He let the leadoff man reach three times in his five innings. The only run he allowed was in the 3rd, after two one-out walks when he gave up a double to rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. But his own offense didn’t do him any favours – they didn’t get a baserunner until the 5th inning against rookie pitcher Chad Green, and only had four total (three hits and one walk) in the game.
It looked like a rally was building in the 5th when Troy Tulowitzki singled with one out to end the perfect game, and Darrell Ceciliani doubled right behind him, but the next two hitters struck out to leave them. The Jays hitters would strike out thirteen times. The Toronto bullpen turned in some truly impressive pitching performances, but they were impressive for all the wrong reasons. Both Joe Biagini (in the 6th) and Ryan Tepera (in the 8th) managed to strand the bases loaded. Each also helped with the fielding in their respective innings – Biagini fielded a ground ball to get a forceout a home (with a nice stretch from Josh Thole), and Tepera did the same with a bunted ball on a forceout at third.
Sometimes, bad weather is your friend. Marco Estrada was struggling, as he gave three home runs over four innings of work. A Didi Gregorius solo shot started things in the 1st, then Gary Sanchez added one in the 2nd. In the 4th, Sanchez hit another, this time scoring three. Every runner that Estrada allowed to reach would score, the first time he gave up five runs this season. He and his team caught a break when there was a 42-minute rain delay in the middle of the 5th. That forced Estrada from the game, but did the same to Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who’d been dealing and kept the Jays scoreless thus far. The Yankees added a run in the 5th off Scott Feldman, but he had a scoreless 6th and struck out the side in order in the 7th.
The Blue Jays bats, meanwhile, got a kickstart from the rain. They took advantage of an error to cash in a Devon Travis double in the 6th, then Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin homered back-to-back, driving in three runs between them and reducing the Yankee lead to two.
The 8th inning was just fun. Josh Donaldson led off with a 12-pitch walk, and Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with his 34th homer of the year. That tied the game, and they wouldn’t stop there. After Michael Saunders flew out, the barrage of runs continued with a Tulowitzki single and a Russell Martin hit his second home run of the game. Chasen Shreve faced five batters and didn’t retire a single one – a hit-by-pitch, walk, and two singles all came around to score, including one on a bases-loaded walk. A fielder’s choice was the second out, then Saunders hit an RBI double and finally Tulowitzki flew out, ending the frame. When it was all over, they’d sent thirteen batters to the plate, had six hits, taken three walks, and seen three different relievers. Saunders was the only Blue Jay not to score in that inning, and they had a six-run lead.
The bullpen shut down the Yankee offense to not allow another run in the latter half of the game, and not even allow a baserunner from the seventh onward. An interesting thing to note is that no Jays pitcher (including Estrada) walked a batter in the entire game. The Blue Jays had fifteen hits, the Yankees eight.
After being shut out for the first 14 innings of the series, the Jays didn’t waste any time. They scored three in the 2nd inning on a single, a walk, and back-to-back doubles from Ezequiel Carrera and Darwin Barney. Happ would allow a solo homer to Gary Sanchez in the bottom half of the inning, and another to Starlin Castro in the 4th. The Blue Jays rallied for a four-run 5th inning, the highlight which was a three-run homer from Melvin Upton Jr., his first with Toronto. All seven runs were charged to New York starter C.C. Sabathia, although he struck out twelve in six innings.
Another home run from the Yankees made it 7-3 in the 6th, and Joaquin Benoit allowed two hits in the 8th. Happ left the game after 7.1 innings, having allowed seven hits and four runs, as well as one walk. He struck out nine and became the first pitcher in MLB to win seventeen games this season. Roberto Osuna came in in the 8th after Benoit struggled and had allowed an inherited runner to score. Osuna stranded both Benoit’s hits and struck out two in one and a third innings.
I’m not going to lie, the lack of run support for Dickey made me a little cranky. He battled for five innings and managed to skillfully escape situations with only one run allowed. But you can’t score the man even one run?! I also did wistfully think that Russell Martin should be put into the game because he’s a noted Yankee killer (see: games 2 and 3 of this series) but actually Josh Thole got on base once (he walked in the 9th), which is more than can be said for 5/9 of the lineup.
Unrelated to anything happening in-game, but Dan Shulman did the play-by-play this series and it was wonderful as always.
Josh Donaldson, who was the designated hitter, left the game Wednesday with a jammed thumb. He also appeared to have an argument with John Gibbons in the dugout, but jokingly dismissed it after the game as Gibby being curious about his cologne.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Tuesday’s game marked the first time in AL history that both starting catchers (Russell Martin and Gary Sanchez) homered multiple times in the same game.
- Edwin Encarnacion became the first hitter in MLB to reach the 100 RBI milestone for the 2016 season. His teammate, Josh Donaldson, was the first to 100 last year.
- This is only the 6th time in history that any team has won five consecutive series at Yankee Stadium. The last team to accomplish the feat was Cleveland in the 1960s
My favourite player(s) this series: Martin/Upton/Tulowitzki
Russell Martin continued his ways of beating up on the Yankees, with two home runs Tuesday and a three-hit game Wednesday, including a double, RBI and a run scored. I still maintain Monday’s game might have ended differently if he’d been used to pinch-hit.
In addition to Melvin Upton Jr.’s first home run with this team, he had three more hits, walked twice and scored three runs. He also made a nice catch on the warning track in Tuesday’s game, and gifted us all the sight of his home-run celebration with Marcus Stroman.
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) August 17, 2016
Tulo was 6-for-13, put an end to the no-hit bid on Monday and hit the home run that started off the comeback on Tuesday. That game was his first four-hit game as a Blue Jay. He also scored three runs in the series, and drove in two.
Where we are now:
First place in the AL East, a full game ahead of Boston
The bad news is, there’s still at least another week before we get Pillar and Bautista back, and the outfield could definitely use the help.
The good news is, winning a series against the Yankees is always fun, that comeback shows just what they’re capable of, and they’re still in first place!
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