New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge can’t come up with a hit by Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Pillar during the second inning of a baseball game on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, in New York
By Ryan Hatch
NEW YORK — The Yankees are not done yet.
They’ve looked cooked many times this season and did on Tuesday night, too, but a late offensive outburst after a shaky ninth inning turned a misty evening in the Bronx into one of their best wins of the season.
The Yankees (72-65), thanks to six combined runs in the seventh and eighth innings — and a fabulous game-ending catch by Brett Gardner — beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-6, at Yankee Stadium, securing a series win after also taking Monday’s game.
New York’s playoff odds remain long considering the team is chasing three others and began the night 3.5 games out of the American League Wild Card, but each win keeps the Yankees afloat that much longer. And with Tuesday’s win the Yankees are now just 4.5 back of the AL East, the closest they’ve been since April 28th.
9TH INNING: It didn’t go great. After walking Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, Yankees closer Dellin Betances surrendered an infield single to Jays’ designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion after a 10-pitch at-bat. Bautista scored from third, and it moved Donaldson to third base, both of whom reached on walks.
Betances then struck out Russell Martin but walked Dioner Navarro, the go-ahead run, to load the bases.
With one out, Jays left fielder Melvin Upton Jr. grounded slowly to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who fielded the ball and shoveled it to Betances covering first, but Betances couldn’t get there in time, and everyone was safe.
Betances was pulled with the score 7-6, and righty Blake Parker came in to pitch with still just one out and the bases loaded.
But Parker struck out Jays’ center fielder Kevin Pillar and then Justin Smoak flew out to Gardner, who caught the ball right up against the wall, capturing it at the top of his glove for the final out.
And before all of that…
Top: Up 3-2 with two outs and runners on first and second in the top half of the frame, Yankees reliever Ben Heller surrendered a double over the head of Brett Gardner in left to Jays’ center fielder Kevin Pillar. Jays Dalton Pompey and Melvin Upton Jr. scored on the play. It looked like that would be the game.
Bottom: With one out shortstop Didi Gregorius, hitting cleanup, smoked a tripled to center, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury to tie the game at four apiece. A batter later second baseman Starlin Castro drove in Gregorius with a sac fly to right.
Two batters later, after Brian McCann walked, third baseman Chase Headley hit his 13th home run of the year.
BABY BOMBERS: With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Yankees rookie first baseman Tyler Austin slugged an opposite field, two-run homer to right that put New York ahead, 3-2. Fellow rookie Aaron Judge, who came into Tuesday’s game mired in streak of 35 strikeouts in 65 at-bats, had singled moments before to keep the inning alive.
For Austin, who turned 25 years old on Tuesday, is the first Yankee since Alex Rodriguez to hit a home run on his birthday. (A-Rod’s was on July 27, 2015, in Texas against the Rangers, his 40th birthday.)
CESSA: Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion socked a 425-foot home run to left in the bottom of the first inning, giving his team a 1-0 lead. Cessa, though, calmed down and threw three straight zeros on the board before giving up another in the fifth on a broken-bat single by Jose Bautista that fell in front of Brett Gardner. Cessa began the sixth but after a walk and a fly out was lifted.
Final line: 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 SO, 2 BB (85 pitches)
6TH INNING: After Cessa left, relievers James Pazos and Adam Warren loaded the bases (single, walk), but Warren the got Jays’ first baseman Justin Smoak to bounce into a 3-6-1 double play, ending the threat, and score remained 2-1.
MCCANN: The Yanks DH came into the game with just one home run in his last 95 at-bats, but socked his 17th of the season in the bottom of the fourth Tuesday night, knotting the game at one apiece. The blast was only McCann’s third since the All-Star break.
PLAY OF THE DAY: In the fifth inning with two runners on and one out, Yanks third baseman Chase Headley made a stellar diving play down the foul line, stabbing a sharp ground ball by Josh Donaldson and then throwing him out at first (and a handy pick by Tyler Austin, to boot). If that ball gets by Headley, two runs probably score and Cessa may not finish the inning.
NEXT: New York and Toronto play the series finale Wednesday evening (7:10 p.m.). Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman (9-6, 4.58) will start, likely opposed by Yanks’ right-hander Bryan Mitchell, who hasn’t yet pitched in the big leagues this year after breaking his toe late in spring training. Manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday’s game that he’s “leaning” toward starting Mitchell.