When you're in a position where you need to win basically every single game for the rest of the season, it's probably not the best idea to get shut out by J.A. Happ.
Fortunately, after mistaking J.A. Happ for Clayton Kershaw for the first seven innings of this game, the offense was able to wake up in the top of the eighth. And the four run outburst was just enough for the Yankees to come away with the win.
Phil Hughes started for the Yankees and matched zeroes with J.A. Happ through the first three innings. I know, you can't predict baseball right? With two of the worst starting pitchers in the American League, you'd figure we'd see a high scoring game.
The Blue Jays got to Hughes in the bottom of the fourth. Brett Lawrie doubled to right to lead off the inning, and two batters later a long two run home run by Colby Rasmus gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead. That was all for Phil Hughes, who again was given the quick hook in favor of David Huff. Ryan Goins took Huff deep later in the fourth for his first career major league home run, and that made it a 3-0 game.
J.A. Happ, meanwhile, continued to be a thorn in the Yankees side as he's done the entire season. Tonight was the first time it was due to pitching performance instead of bounty hunting Yankee hitters, but all the same. Happ pitched seven shutout innings and allowed only three hits going into the top of the eighth.
Then in the eighth, the Yankees finally got going on offense. Brendan Ryan led off with a double into the corner to knock Happ out of the game. He was replaced by Aaron Loup, who gave up a single to Curtis Granderson and prompted the Blue Jays to bring in the righty Steve Delebar to face Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod struck out on a 3-2 changeup, and then the offense finally strung together some hits when they needed it.
Robinson Cano singled to center to score Ryan from third, and Alfonso Soriano followed with a double off the wall in right field to cut the deficit to 3-2. A two run double by Vernon Wells into the left field corner completed the four run rally and gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
David Robertson came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and got the first two outs before allowing a single to Rajai Davis. Davis stole second on a pitchout due to a poor throw by Chris Stewart, who had entered the game for JR Murphy for "defensive purposes" in the bottom of the eighth. Mariano Rivera was brought in for the four out save, and he got Lawrie to ground out to second to end the eighth.
Rivera made it interesting in the ninth by allowing successive singles to open the inning. But a failed sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Muneori Kawasaki left runners on first and second with one out. Just want to point out that Kawasaki was brought in to PINCH HIT for a hot hitter for the purpose of giving up an out. Blue Jays, I thank you!
Rivera got a ground out to second and then struck out J.P. Arencibia to end the game.
- Alex Rodriguez had his second consecutive 0-4, and after crushing the ball last week you have to wonder if he might be in more pain than he's letting on. He did just miss a couple tonight with a few flyouts to the warning track (and a flyout to the track yesterday as well), so it may just be an unlucky stretch. But with his inability to play the field or really run right now you hope that the hamstring and calf aren't affecting him too much at the plate.
- The Yankees will be 2.5 games out of the final wild card spot after tonight's game. Losses by Cleveland and/or the Orioles tonight could push the wild card race even closer with ten games remaining on the season. It's a doable deficit, but the Yankees are still in a position where they need to win basically every night, especially against teams that they have to beat.