Yankees, Backed by Nova and Gardner, Edge Blue Jays, 3-2

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 02: Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases on his 2-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on September 2, 2011 in the Bronx Borough of New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Where to start? Ivan Nova suffered from first-inning bad luck that nearly cost him the game. A five-pitch walk to start things off didn't promise greatness tonight. A groundball single later and Toronto had runners on the corners. Up stepped baseball's best hitter, Jose Bautista. Nova made a great pitch and induced weak contact, only for it to trickle through the right side of the infield. The Jays had a quick 1-0 lead with no outs and runners again on the corners. Then Brett Gardner showed why he's one of the best defenders in the game. He made two outstanding plays that kept the Yankees within two runs. The first was a running catch that enabled the second run to score on a sac-fly, then a diving grab in which Gardner doubled off Bautista to end the inning.

Brandon Morrow looked great to start, allowing just a walk through two innings. But the Yanks caught up to him in the third. He walked Russell Martin, Eduardo Nunez lined out to right, and then Gutty, Gritty hit a frozen rope into the first row of seats in rightfield to tie the contest.

The third and final Yankee run came in the fifth. The torrid Robinson Cano stepped to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Morrow left his usually devastating slider a bit high on an 0-1 pitch and Cano blooped it into shallow right-centerfield. Jeter scored, and thanks to the bullpen, it turned out to be the game-winner.

Notes:

- What was Toronto thinking in the third when Yunel Escobar tried to steal second-base with Bautista at the plate? There are so many reasons not to do that. 1. Escobar is not exactly a stolen-base threat, having stolen all of 21 bases in a five-year career; 2. Martin is among the better catchers at throwing out potential base-thieves (31%); 3. Even if he's successful, it would leave first-base open and give Nova incentive to walk the dangerous Bautista; 4. Most importantly, it deprived the game's best hitter a chance at hitting a two-run homer instead of a solo-shot (which he nearly did the next inning).

- Derek Jeter reached on an infield single in the third. What's surprising about that you may ask. The first-base ump initially called Jeter out. He argued (which he rarely does), and the ump asked for help from the home-plate official. They talked it over and declared Jeter safe, that the errant throw had pulled the first-baseman far enough off the bag that his swipe tag missed Jeter. Lo and behold, they were right! Most of the time we criticize umpires to no end when they screw up. They did something right tonight, and they deserve credit.

- Toronto nearly came back in the sixth, when they put two runners on for Adam Lind. Nova fell behind 2-0 and threw a changeup over the heart of the plate. Lind just missed it and Granderson ran it down on the warning track. It looked like he might've been pulled after that test, but Girardi left him in, and Nova rewarded his faith with a strikeout and two groundouts in the seventh. Soriano and Rivera closed out the contest.

- Texas destroyed Boston, 10-0, behind Derek Holland, vaulting the Yankees half a game into first place.

Play of the Game: Brett Gardner's game-tying home run (+18%).

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