The Yankees welcomed the Blue Jays to the Stadium for a three game set as a new level of excitement was brewing over the club with the new influx of young talent on the roster. Not only is the talent on the roster, but they are performing at a level that has taken the thoughts on the next championship to new heights. The hope is that the recent bout of success since the trade deadline will continue as the Yankees try to chase down the Red Sox and Jays in the wildcard race.
Powered by the youngsters
Two weeks ago, the storyline for a Yankee win was probably led by offense supplied by Carlos Beltran and three innings out of the bullpen combination of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. With three of those four gone, a new cast of characters is making up the newest chapter in team history. Chad Green would get the start in the series opener, and while he has pitched well at times, it would also be understandable at the level of anxiety for fans as Green would face the vaunted Jays lineup.
Green would pitch one of the better ballgames by a Yankee starter in 2016, however. 6 innings of two-hit shutout baseball with 11 strikeouts. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Green has put up stellar numbers at Triple-A Scranton this year, but has struggled at times in his big league opportunities. He has always had the velocity, touching the mid-90’s with his fastball, but has seen real improvement with the rest of his pitches, especially the changeup. It remains to be seen if he can make this success consistent, but Green has certainly taken huge steps forward this season as Luis Severino has taken similar steps backwards.
Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge would supply 4 of the Yankees 8 hits on the ballgame, with Judge getting the lone RBI with a double in the fourth inning. Somehow, that was enough as the offense put base runners on all night, and just couldn’t plate any runs. 2-for 18 with runners in scoring position and 14 left on base. It’s hard to imagine a way to do that and only score one run. But, the Yankees managed to pull it off on Monday.
The newly revamped back end of the bullpen took over and finished things off in support of Green. Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren set things up and Betances got out of a bit of a jam in the ninth to post his sixth save. It wasn’t pretty offensively, but it sure is great to watch young players getting the call up and not just anguishing on the bench, but having success and contributing to victories. The two teams are back at it on Tuesday with Michael Pineda heading to the bump for the Yankees.
The lead that turned ugly
Michael Pineda was on top of his game Tuesday night until Mother Nature interfered and things got pretty squirrelly after that. Pineda was rolling along through 5 innings having only given up 4 hits to the Jays. Then the rains came with the Yankees leading 6-0. Pineda would not come back out after the 42 minute delay and to say the bullpen blew up would be an understatement.
Gary Sanchez was the offensive star of the show early. An inning after a Gregorius home run, Sanchez launched his own solo shot into the Jays bullpen to put the Yankees up 2-0. In the fourth, Sanchez blasted a massive three-run blow to left field that gave them a 5-0 lead. Both homers from Sanchez were off changeups from Marco Estrada.
With a 6-0 lead in hand after the rain delay, Anthony Swarzak entered the game and was tagged for 4 hits and 4 runs in 0.2 innings. Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin led the barrage with home runs. The flood gates opened in the eighth as the Jays turned a 6-4 deficit into a 6 run lead with 8 runs against Adam Warren and Chasen Shreve. That might have been the ugliest inning of the season right there. Unbearable to watch.
The Yankees managed to turn a 6-0 lead into a 12-6 loss. Warren didn’t have good stuff and really stunk things up for the first time since his return from the Cubs. Shreve has had a few brief flashes this season, but for the most part hasn’t been real effective. Sanchez had 3 hits and 4 RBIs to push his line to .340/.367/.660 since his recall. He has certainly at this pointed supplanted Brian McCann behind the plate as it appears he will get most of the work the rest of the season.
The series finale saw C.C. Sabathia have one of the strangest pitching lines of the season. 6 IP, 9 hits, 7 runs, but 12 strikeouts. His defense, while only committing one error, failed to help him get out of the second inning unscathed, with lackluster play. The Jays offense made him pay with two big innings on Wednesday, getting all seven of their runs in the second and fourth innings combined. The other four innings were pretty routine for the big fella. Sabathia is now 7-10 and his once sterling ERA has ballooned to 4.49 on the season.
Sanchez and Judge played a big part for the Yankee offense as they moved up to the 4th and 5th spots in the order. Sanchez would hit a long home run into Monument Park in the second inning. He and Judge would both have two hits in the game with Judge adding an RBI in the eighth inning. Castro and Chase Headley would add solo shots for the Yankees. Sanchez has five home runs and fifteen RBIs in his first 11 games as a Yankee.
The Yankees would lose yet another series to a division opponent, but the growth of the Baby Bombers continues to impress and give hope going forward. These players are getting invaluable experience and hopefully that will parlay into renewed life at the Stadium and a push to the next World Series title.