For the first six or seven innings, the outcome of Tuesday’s game was secondary. Robinson Cano took a J.A. Happ pitch to the left hand in his first at-bat and had to leave the game at the end of the inning. Since it was a direct hit, it was easy to think the worst. Thankfully, x-rays were negative and Robbie is just day-to-day with a contusion. Add in the 7-1 beatdown of the Blue Jays and Tuesday was a win-win for New York.
Bombs Over Toronto
This was the best kind of game. The Yankees led 4-0 after just four batters thanks to some small ball (Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter) and a three-run long ball (Alfonso Soriano), which came one batter after Cano took the pitch to the hand. The homer was a bomb into the second deck down the left field line. No-doubter. Those were all the runs the Yankees would need, but they tacked on three more solo homers — Soriano, Mark Reynolds, and Alex Rodriguez — just to rub it in a little bit.
The 4-5-6 hitters drove the offense, going a combined 6-for-13 (.462) with three homers and two walks. Those three hitters? Soriano, A-Rod, and Curtis Granderson. The three guys who returned to the lineup a few weeks ago and added some much-needed thump. Soriano has eleven homers in 30 games with the Yankees, A-Rod has the same number of homers in 20 games (four) that the team’s replacement third basemen had in the first 112 games, and Granderson is sitting on a .412 OBP in 24 games since coming off the DL. Offensive production and lineup depth, glorious offensive production and lineup depth.
These last few starts have been very encouraging for Andy Pettitte. The veteran left-hander held Toronto to three singles, two doubles, and two walks in seven scoreless innings on Tuesday, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%). Andy ran into a wall around the 85-90 pitch mark in each of his previous two starts, so smart move by Joe Girardi to get him out of there with the big lead. Save some bullets for the tighter games next month.
With CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes stinkin’ up the joint twice every five days, the Yankees desperately needed Andy to right the ship and give the club a third quality starter alongside Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. Pettitte has now allowed five runs (two earned) in his last four starts and has a 2.95 ERA (~3.70 FIP) in his last seven starts. That’s huge. He may not be able to give the team 110 (or even 100) quality pitches anymore, but 85 or so pitches of Pettitte is much better than what they’re getting from any non-Kuroda/Nova starter at the moment.
Soriano’s second homer was the 400th homer of his career, making him the 43rd member of the 2,000-hit, 400-homer club. Add in 250 career steals and we’re down to just six players: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, A-Rod, Andre Dawson, Gary Sheffield, and Soriano. That’s some company right there.
Eduardo Nunez caught a spike and twisted his knee in the eighth inning, though he remained in the game long enough to bat in the top of the ninth. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter and Reynolds finished the game at second base. He actually made a really nice double play pivot at the bag on the game-ending double play. A-Rod to Reynolds to Lyle Overbay on the 5-4-3 double play. Just like they drew it up in Spring Training. Nunez is day-to-day.
Gardner (double, moved to third on wild pitch) and Jeter (single) put together the first run before the homerun bats showed up. Jeter went 2-for-5 with two identical hits back up the middle. Nunez singled off the bench after Cano left the game and Vernon Wells chipped in a single and a walk. Seven runs on a dozen hits and three walks is a pretty good day at the office.
Adam Warren allowed a run on five hits and a walk in the final two innings to close things out. The rookie right-hander has been pretty solid in long relief this year, but he’s now allowed 20 runs and 67 base-runners in 37.1 innings since the start of June. That’s bad.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Athletics mopped the floor with Justin Verlander and won a rain-shortened game, so the Yankees remain five back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. New York did gain a game on the Rays, Indians, and Orioles, however. So that’s good.
The Yankees and Blue Jays will wrap up this three-game series with the road trip-ending rubber game on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda and right-hander Todd Redmond is your pitching matchup.