Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3: Kuroda solid, sweep avoided

Tom Szczerbowski

A win's a win, right?

After a rough outing by Chase Whitley and an ugly ending to last night's game, the Yankees turned to Hiroki Kuroda to spare them from a three-game sweep at the hands of the division leading Toronto Blue Jays.  And with a little timely hitting (and, of course, some missed opportunities) the Yankees snapped their four-game skid and managed to steal one of three from the Blue Jays in Toronto.

The game did not get off to a good start.  In the top of the first, Brett Gardner led off with a double, only to find himself eventually stranded at third as the heart of the Yankee order failed to bring him home.  Then, on the first offering from Hiroki Kuroda, Jose Reyes took him out to right, immediately making it 1–0 Blue Jays.

In the third, the Yankees offense got going, as Francisco Cervelli doubled home Kelly Johnson, who had walked to open the inning.  After Gardner popped out and Derek Jeter struck out, Jacoby Ellsbury came through with some clutch hitting, spanking a liner up the middle for a two-out RBI single to give the Yankees the lead. Mark Teixeira then hit a deep fly ball that just got out of the park, and all of the sudden, Kuroda had a decent lead to work with: it was 4–1 Yankees.

The bottom of the fifth saw the Jays offense get something going.  Munenori Kawasaki worked a one-out walk, and after a three-pitch strikeout of Anthony Gose, Jose Reyes drove another ball deep to right for a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third with two outs. Melky Cabrera didn't miss his chance with runners in scoring position as he singled to left to score both Reyes and Kawasaki.  While Adam Lind flew out to end the inning, the Jays had trimmed the lead to one heading into the sixth.

The game stayed a one run affair until the seventh.  Jays starter Drew Hutchinson didn't return in the top of the inning, replaced instead by Rob Rasmussen, who immediately ran into trouble.  The Yankees got their first two men on in the inning, with Gardner working a walk and Jeter being plunked.  Rasmussen then delivered a wild pitch, and suddenly the Yankees had the bases loaded with no one out.  This knocked Rasmussen out of the game, but replacement Sergio Santos proved to be much better - he limited the Yankees to just one run, surrendered on a Teixeira sac fly that scored Gardner, keeping Toronto within striking distance and giving their offense a chance to earn a sweep after all.

Luckily for us, Kuroda was dealing, and the bullpen was on point tonight.  Kuroda made it into the seventh before being pulled with one out, and Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton finished off the inning (although the Jays did get runners to second and third with two outs).  Adam Warren got one out in the night before surrendering a single, at which point Joe Girardi turned to Robertson for a five-out save.  Robertson, being a beast, obliged, striking out three and getting all five Blue Jays in order to preserve a little Yankee dignity and escape Toronto with a win.

The Yankees have an off day tomorrow before returning to New York for a three game set against the Red Sox this weekend.  Let's hope they can put this ugly trip to Toronto behind them and push Boston even farther down the AL East standings.

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