On Tuesday night, at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, the Yankees won a much needed game over the Blue Jays, 7-1. Alonso Soriano, who has helped the Yankees win many games with his bat since his return to the team on July 26, recorded his MLB leading sixth multi-homer game of the season. Andy Pettitte also shutout the Blue Jays over seven innings pitched. Effective pitching combined with four homers in a game will almost always lead to a win.
The first inning was dramatic as the Yankees scored half of the runs that they would score in the game. Brett Gardner led off the game with a double off of the wall. He took third on a wild pitch and would score on Derek Jeter’s first of two singles up the middle. The Yankees received a big scare as J.A. Happ hit Robinson Cano on his left hand in the next at-bat. Happ (5.46 ERA) has made a habit of hitting members of the Yankees this season as he was the one who hit Curtis Granderson during the opening game of spring training.
It was later revealed that Cano’s injury was luckily only a contusion and he is now day-to-day after his x-ray was negative. The Yankees would have had to effectively say good-bye to their playoff hopes if his hand was broken. Cano has been an offensive bright spot this season in the midst of many injuries. He leads the team in batting average (.305), RBIs (85) and homers (24). Soriano has hit 26 homers this season but he played for the Chicago Cubs before the end of June.
Continuing with the offensive outburst that was the first inning, after Cano’s hit by pitch put runners on first and second, Soriano hit a deep homer to the second deck in the Rogers Centre. This three-run blast foreshadowed what was to come for Soriano later in the game.
In the third inning, to give the Yankees the 5-0 lead, Soriano hit a solo homer that bounced off the wall in left. That was his 400th homer of his career. If he continues at the rate his is on right now, for another three or four years, he might be put in the Hall of Fame. To go along with his 400 homers, he has 285 steals, 461 doubles and 1,119 RBIs. Soriano now has an outstanding 11 homers in 30 games with the Yankees this season.
Mark Reynolds, for the team’s third homer of the evening, hit a solo shot to the Blue Jays bullpen in the sixth inning. Reynolds has done well so far in his role as a platoon first basemen with Lyle Overbay. After Eduardo Nunez was taken out of the game in the ninth, Reynolds even ended the game defensively by converting the double play from second, which showed his versatility.
Alex Rodriguez would easily hit his 651st homer of his career in the 7th inning to put him 10 away from passing Willie Mays on the all-time homer list and being awarded an extra $6 million. He will surely not hit 10 more this season, and it is not known if/when he will given his upcoming suspension.
Pettitte won his 16th career game in Toronto at the Rogers Centre/Skydome giving him his 10th (10-9) win of the season in the process. Pettitte has struggled at times this season (4.05 ERA), but in his last three starts he has only allowed one earned run in a combined 19.2 innings pitched. He was able to locate all of his pitches last night, which helped him only allow five hits and two walks. Adam Warren, who along with the more likely David Huff, is a candidate to replace the ineffective Phil Hughes in the rotation, allowed a run in two innings of relief while pitching out of damage.
The Yankees desperately needed that win since they can now win the series and since Oakland won they would have fallen even further back in the Wild-Card race. The Bronx Bombers currently have a 4.5 game deficit with 30 games left to play. They will have every opportunity to make up the ground since 13 of their final 30 games are against last place teams, including tonight against Toronto.
The Yankees go into their series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field with a five-game winning. They swept the four-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto, who is in last place in the AL East, did not pose much of a challenge for the surging Yankees. The Bronx Bombers scored four runs or more in three of the games and their improved offense has helped them win 10 of their past 12 games.
Tampa, who is one-game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and at the top of the Wild-Card standings, has won four of their past six games after losing six in a row earlier this month. The Rays are a team that is led by their strong pitching staff. Matt Moore is on the disabled list right now, but besides him, their top three healthy starters all have an ERA below 3.30.
It is important for the Yankees to win at least two out of the three games because they obviously can’t afford to be losing a series at this point. The Yankees are only 3.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card, which means that each win during this series would help increase their odds of catching the Athletics. Oakland is playing a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend (the Orioles are 3 games behind Oakland), which makes it even more important that the Yankees win the series because teams ahead of them will be playing each other.
Chris Archer, who will be pitching against the Yankees, is a 24-year-old rookie who threw a complete game shutout against the Yankees in his previous start against New York. He will likely be in consideration for Rookie of the Year in the American League as he won AL Rookie of the Month for July. However, the Yankees offense is much better than it was when he faced them on July 27.
Alfonso Soriano, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez are now in the lineup which means that one-third of the lineup has been upgraded. Mark Reynolds, who is playing on a part-time with Lyle Overbay at first base, is another new addition, who is playing tonight because Overbay has the flu.
Tampa’s rotation for this series is influx right now because it is not known if Matt Moore will return during the series. Here are the tentative pitching match-ups:
Hiroki Kuroda (11-8, 2.81 ERA) vs Chris Archer (6-5, 2.95 ERA)
Saturday at 7:10 p.m.
CC Sabathia (11-10, 4.83 ERA), who struggled in his last start but got the win, will pitch for the Yankees. It is not known who will start for the Rays.
Sunday at 1:40 p.m.
Ivan Nova (7-4, 3.17 ERA), who has been the team’s second best pitcher this season, will pitch in the series finale.
The Yankees begin the three-game series against the Red Sox in Boston trailing their rivals by 8.5 games in the American League East. The Yankees have won five of their last seven games coming into the series and they currently have their best lineup of the season. They need Alfonso Soriano to continue driving in runs and hitting at a consistent rate (he can’t be expected to drive in six or seven games a game like he did earlier this week), and the combination of Soriano, Curtis Granderson (who is hitting .529 in his last five games), Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez form a formidable middle of the order.
The Red Sox come into this series having lost six out of their last 10 games. In that 10-game span half of their wins have come over the Houston Astros, who have the worst record in baseball. Boston has lost three of its last four games and has only scored 11 runs in those games. In comparison, the Yankees have scored 29 runs in their last four games (albeit against inferior competition to the Red Sox). The Yankees appear to be playing the Red Sox at the right time.
After their 8-4 loss last night to the Angels, the Yankees are currently six games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card spot. They are at the point where they need to put together a sustained winning streak to have a chance of passing the four teams that are currently ahead of them. Andy Pettitte, who always seemed to get the Yankees a win following a loss in previous seasons, needs to come through with a vintage Pettitte start. In his last start, he only allowed one run, but he did surrender eight hits and three walks in only 4.1 innings. However, Pettitte does have a 4.19 ERA in away games this season as opposed to a 5.14 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees need to win at least two out of the three games. Mark Reynolds has been added to the 25-man roster in order to give the team another power bat. Lyle Overbay, who has been better than expected offensively, will now likely split time with Reynolds at first base (Reynolds will play against lefties). The Yankees need to hope that a change of scenery will help Reynolds since he was only hitting .215 before being released by the Indians. However, he has always been a slugger that has been more known for his power than his average.
Preston Claiborne has been sent down to Scranton to make room for Reynolds. Granderson will get the night off.
Here are the pitching match-ups for the series at Fenway.
Tonight, 7:10 p.m., on MY9
Andy Pettitte (7-9, 4.62 ERA) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (8-5, 3.66 ERA)
Saturday, 4:05 p.m., on FOX
Hiroki Kuroda (11-7, 2.33 ERA) vs. RHP John Lackey (7-10, 3.32 ERA)
Sunday, 8:05 p.m., ESPN
CC Sabathia (10-10, 4.66 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.50 ERA)