So the Yankees really needed to beat those pesky Blue Jays in Toronto.
They got off to a good start, giving Hiroki Kuroda a 2-0 lead before he ever had to take the mound, and all with 2 outs, no less: Alex Rodriguez singled to center, Robinson Cano did the same, and Nick Swisher doubled him home.
Maybe Swish should text with Derek Jeter more often. (The authors of the blog Bleeding Yankee Blue will get that joke.)
The Yanks added another run in the 2nd. Raul Ibanez led off with a single, Russell Martin drew a walk, Eric Chavez drew a walk. You load the bases with nobody out, and you expect to get more than one run. Well, Jeter grounded into a double play to score Ibanez, and then Ichiro Suzuki grounded out to end the inning. 3-0 Yankees, but it should have been much more. Cody Rasmus hit one out to pull a run back for the Jays in the 5th, 3-1.
The top of the 6th turned out to be the key inning. Robinson Cano led off, and Jays starter Brett Cecil -- accidentally, it appears -- hit him on the wrist. X-rays showed no break, and he is expected to play today. Swisher singled to left. Looked like a good setup, but Curtis Granderson and Ibanez struck out.
It was then that Jays manager John Farrell pulled a move right out of Joe Girardi's binder: He replaced his pitcher after back-to-back strikeouts. Out came Cecil, in went Jason Frasor.
The batter was Russell Martin. He came into the game batting .208, having had an awful season in that regard -- but was one home run short of 20. A native of Montreal, it's only natural that he would have an intense dislike of Toronto. If any Yankee was going to come through last night, it would have been appropriate for him to be the one.
John Sterling: "Swung on, and there it goes, drilled to deep left! It is high! It is far! It is gone!"
Or, as he would have said if he spoke French like Martin and the good people of Montreal, "Et là il va, a entraîné profondément pour partir ! C'est haut ! C'est éloigné ! Il est allé !"
Russell Martin, le Bête Magnifique Quebecois!
(That's "The Magnificent Beast from Quebec.")
6-1 Yankees. It didn't stop there: Chavez walked, and singles be Jeter and Ichiro brought him home. 7-1.
Chavez would later hit his 15th home run of the season, but the rest isn't really worth reporting. Final score: Yankees 11, Blue Jays 4. WP: Kuroda (15-11). No save. LP: Chad Jenkins (0-3).
The Magic Number to clinch the AL East is down to 5. There are 5 games left. If the Yanks win 3 of 5, the Orioles will have to win 4 of 5. "Control your own destiny."
The series is resuming even as I type, with Andy Pettitte starting against Ricky Romero. The Orioles play the Sox at Camden Yards tonight.
If the Yankees win today, and the Texas Rangers beat the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim (a 4:00 start, Eastern Time), the Yankees will clinch at least a Playoff spot, reaching their 51st postseason in 110 years of play. (52 if you count being in 1st place when the Strike of '94 hit, leading to the cancellation of that year's postseason.)
Come on you Bombers!
Today marks the 58th Anniversary of Willie Mays making "The Catch." From that game, on September 29, 1954, only 6 players are still alive. From the Giants: Mays, left fielder Monte Irvin, and shortstop Alvin Dark. For the Indians: 3rd baseman Al Rosen, 1st baseman Bill Glynn, and pinch-runner Rudy Regalado. (Giant right fielder Don Mueller and Indian right fielder Dave Philley – who did play for the Phillies for 3 years – both died within the last year.)