In their final series of the regular season, the New York Yankees earned the series victory by taking two of three games from the Toronto Blue Jays. While the pinstripes ran out of calendar to capture the AL East flag, they gave their fans some superb moments and milestones. The club crossed the 90 win threshold and was given some lasting memories from Masahiro Tanaka, Aaron Judge and CC Sabathia in particular.
With this being the final series of the regular season, I also want to take this moment to thank all of you for reading and following along in what has been a season full of fun surprises. Here’s hoping for a few more series in October beyond Tuesday night!
Their matinee contest with the Blue Jays was a quick turnaround and bounce back 4-0 victory for the Yankees.
If baseball pitchers went by a football schedule, Masahiro Tanaka might be the greatest of all-time. Throwing on seven days rest, he faced a Jays team which throttled him in his last outing in Toronto. This time around was much different with the Yankee Stadium/second half Tanaka on full display.
In what may have been his final regular-season start in pinstripes, Tanaka delivered seven scoreless frames, retiring the first 14 batters he faced while fanning a career-high 15. Tanaka equaled Stephen Strasburg with the most K’s in a game in 2017.
A key to beating a spoiler team like the Blue Jays is to keep them down early. The Yankees lineup went right to work in the first against Joe Biagini.
With one-down Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left and stole second. After a walk to Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius singled to right to load the bases.
An infield single by Starlin Castro scored Ellsbury to make it 1-0.
Ensuing batter Greg Bird lifted a sacrifice fly to center, doubling the pinstripes lead.
RBI-singles by Judge and Bird in the fifth and sixth innings respectively made it 4-0 Yankees. Bird, who also collected a double on the day, joined Alex Rodriguez, Don Mattingly and Babe Ruth as the fourth Yankee ever to record an RBI and an extra-base hit in seven consecutive contests.
It's a family thing. pic.twitter.com/x68EFJenXG
Perhaps the only negative on the afternoon was the quick hook delivered to Dellin Betances in the ninth before Aroldis Chapman was summoned to record save No. 21.
90 IS A ROUND NUMBER
Following four consecutive campaigns of hovering around the mid-80s in win total, the Bronx Bombers reached the 90 win plateau. This marks the first time since the 2012 squad won 95, that the club has reached 90.
In their 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays, the Yankees decided to go all in on the AL East by starting CC Sabathia instead of Jaime Garcia. While the move paid off, unfortunately, it was too little too late, as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros to clinch the division.
SABATHIA STEPS UP
Considering how he wasn’t even supposed to start, Sabathia came up big in pushing the Red Sox for the division. The big lefty gave the pinstripes 5.2 scoreless frames of six-strikeout ball. His 14 wins are the most since 2012 and in recording career victory No. 237 he passes Whitey Ford on the all-time wins list. When he exited in the sixth, it didn’t feel like he was making his final start in pinstripes.
Assuming the Yankees make it past the Minnesota Twins in the Wild-Card game Tuesday night, I would have no qualms giving Sabathia a Game 2 start in the ALDS where it all began for him in Cleveland against the Indians. Although they have to burn Luis Severino in the Wild-Card game, the rotation doesn’t set up badly if they pitch Sonny Gray on the road in Game 1, where he pitches better than at Yankee Stadium, Sabathia Game 2, Severino in the swing game of Game 3 and Masahiro Tanaka in Game 4 at home, where he’s much more comfortable.
JUDGE BROKE STATCAST AGAIN
Facing Marcus Stroman in the fourth, Judge crushed a home run to the retired numbers… in left. The solo smash went 484 feet and No. 52 on the year gave the Bronx Bombers a 1-0 advantage. How it wasn’t longer than his launch against the Baltimore Orioles earlier this season is beyond me.
Judge’s home run was historic, passing “The Great Bambino” with 33 home runs at home, most in a season by a Yankee, a mark which stood since 1921, when the Yankees played their home games at the Polo Grounds. Plus, home run No. 52 tied Mickey Mantle’s 1956 total for eighth most in a season by a Bronx Bomber. The home run also made Judge and Sanchez the only teammates 25 or younger with 85 combined home runs.
Later in the fourth inning, with one down, Didi Gregorius singled to left center. Castro followed with a shallow single to center, plating his double-play mate for a 2-0 lead.
Tossing 1.1 innings, Chad Green recorded strikeout No. 100 on the season, making the Yankees the seventh club in major-league history with two relievers to register 100 K’s in a year. David Roberstson and Chapman were also sharp in finishing off the Blue Jays.
In your quintessential “get out of dodge” game, the
Buffalo Bisons and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders Blue Jays and Yankees rushed through a late-afternoon affair with Toronto squeaking out a 2-1 victory.
Jordan Montgomery rounded out a nice rookie campaign, tossing 5.1 frames of one-run, two-hit ball, fanning three on 62 pitches. The rookie southpaw ends the year with nine victories and a 3.88 ERA.
HOLLIDAY MAKES HIS CASE
Matt Holliday made the case for his experienced bat to give the Bronx Bombers some potential pop this October. Holliday squared the game at one with home run No. 19 on the season, against Danny Barnes.
BULLPEN ODDS AND ENDS
Adam Warren appeared to be well enough to warrant a postseason roster spot with a scoreless frame, throwing 13 pitches. Tough luck Domingo German was tagged with the loss despite not yielding a hit. Ben Heller also worked a scoreless inning. Both German and Heller definitely opened some eyes for 2018.
Finishing the season at 91-71, the Yankees will host the Minnesota Twins in the American League Wild Card game Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Pitching probables Ervin Santana vs. Luis Severino.