The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon. Derek Jeter, who only has four more games at Yankee Stadium, became the first Yankee to get four straight multi-hit games at age 40 or older. His two hits, RBI and a run scored helped the Yankees get their fourth win in their last five games and raised his average to .255.
Jeter, who received a standing ovation before and during every at-bat, is now 9-19 since snapping his 0-28 hitless skid. He has stepped up in front of the home fans the past few games like he has so many times during his remarkable career.
The Captain thought that the key to winning the game and the series was the clutch offensive hitting and pitching. “I thought we came up with some timely hits, but it all starts with pitching,” Jeter said. Out pitching staff was good, our starters were, out bullpen was good and we came up with some big his. We are playing pretty good right now.”
Masahiro Tanaka, who made his first start since July 8 as a result of his partial tear of his UCL in his elbow, pitched just like he did in most of his starts before his injury. He had an excellent 2.51 ERA before going on the disabled list, and was able to lower it to 2.47 after Sunday’s start. He was on a pitch limit of 70-75 pitches, and he threw 70 pitches in 5.1 innings while only giving up five hits and not allowing a walk. If he can pitch like this again on Friday against Boston then it is likely that he will not need surgery and will be able to have a normal offseason pitching program.
“Overall, I’m pretty excited with how I pitched today,” Tanaka said. The injection of platelet-rich plasma into his elbow and not throwing for three weeks obviously helped the elbow recover. “It’s pain free,” Tanaka said. This is great news for the Yankees.
The only run that Tanaka allowed came off of an Edwin Encarnacion double play that scored Jose Reyes from third in the first inning. Tanaka did not allow a hit in the third, fourth or fifth innings. His splitter was working and his curve ball was effective, which is a good sign, but it will be key how he recovers the next few days.
The Yankees scored their first run of the game off of a Brain McCann solo homer to right against Drew Hutchison, which brought an ovation from the crowd. In the fifth inning, Brett Gardner hit a homer to right to make the score 2-1 and give the Yankees the lead for good. This homer was the 15,000 home run in Yankees’ history and that milestone was posted on the Jumbotron shortly after.
“I knew a few days ago that we were a couple away, maybe within four or five, but I wasn’t sure if it was the one I had hit or the one McCann had hit,” Gardner said. “It is definitely something I will never forget. I have it (the ball) right now, somebody might try to get it from me. It came in a good game and it was a good win for us.”
In the seventh inning, the Yankees scored two more runs to make the score 5-1. Derek Jeter hit a double down the line in right to score Gardner, who had doubled to lead off the inning. That was the last time that many fans at the stadium will see Jeter get a hit. He then saw an opening and easily stole third and scored on McCann’s second homer of the game. This was McCann’s 22nd homer of the season. “Brian has been swinging the bat extremely well the last month or so, it seems like he has found his stroke,” Jeter said. “It seems like he is pretty comfortable now.”
McCann’s contract goes for four more seasons and it is key that he has really taken advantage of the short porch in right. He now has 18 homers at Yankee Stadium this season and four during road games.
ESPN gives the Yankees a 0.1 chance of making the playoffs since they are currently 4.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals for the second wild card spot with seven games to play. The Yankees will begin a four-game series at home against the first place Baltimore Orioles on Monday and Michael Pineda (3-5, 2.15 ERA) will pitch against Wei-Yin Chen (16-4, 3.58 ERA).