This weekend’s three-game set in Toronto is a statement series for the Blue Jays, but instead it was the Yankees who made a statement on Friday night. That statement: AL East titles aren’t won in the offseason. You’ve gotten earn that sucker during the dog days. New York pounded their division rivals to the north and won the series opener 9-4. Let’s recap…
- Back Problems? What Back Problems?: Andy Pettitte returned to the mound after essentially having a start skipped due to back spasms, but he didn’t miss a beat. Three runs — including two on this mammoth Jose Bautista homer … I mean seriously, look at that thing — in 7.1 innings on just 90 pitches, including a healthy ten swings and misses. After the first inning, Andy allowed just two runners to make it as far as second base, and both came on the homer. Typical Andy. Not flashy, just supremely reliable.
- All The Extra-Base Hits: The Yankees picked up a total of 13 hits in the game, but only three (!) were singles. Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner, Frankie Cervelli (two), and Ichiro Suzuki (two) all had doubles while Hafner and former Blue Jays Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay hit homers. Brett Gardner chipped in a triple. They were all over starter Brandon Morrow, who was giving up rockets left and right. Even the outs were hit hard.
- Leftovers: The Yankees scored two runs on Eduardo Nunez‘s sacrifice fly because Colby Rasmus’ throw home wound up in the dugout … Ichiro appears to be on the verge of a hot streak, with the two doubles in this game and a couple of line drive in the finale against the Diamondbacks … Shawn Kelley, a.k.a the Phil Hughes of the bullpen, allowed his #obligatoryhomer but otherwise closed things out in relief of Pettitte … both Kevin Youkilis and Wells have started to come back to Earth a bit, but Hafner just continues to mash. He’s up to .349/.440/.767 on the season. The inevitable injury is really going to suck. Man can he hit.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound against veteran finesseballer Mark Buehrle on Saturday afternoon, so it’ll be interesting/painful to see how the lineup handles the lefty.