The Yankees knew that when the Blue Jays came to town, the club was going to hit. They came into this game with a team line of 108 wRC+ and a (tied for) MLB best 123 home runs. And considering the Yankees have struggled at the plate, this would be a great time to change all of that.
Unfortunately, the Blue Jays struck first. After a couple of base hits by Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera in the first inning, Jose Bautista decided to ruin Hiroki Kuroda's night by launching a three-run home run into the left field seats. Kuroda would eventually settle down, but it looked like the Bombers would have their work cut out for them from the beginning. Luckily, they have the Buehrle Curse™ on their side.
Mark Buehrle has the following line against the Yankees: 1-11 (the W-L record is amusing, if nothing else), 105.1 innings, 5.81 ERA, 137 hits, and 5.5 strikeouts per nine. Ouch. In theory, that number should regress to the mean, especially considering how good of a pitcher he has been. That did not happen. In the bottom of the second, the Yankees chipped away at the deficit. The Yankees promptly loaded the bases on base hits from Brian McCann and Chase Headley, and then a walk from Ichiro Suzuki. Brian Roberts drove one run in on a fluky infield single, and then they drove in another on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly.
Hiroki Kuroda promptly settled down. Well, other than allowing another Jose Bautista dinger (a solo shot) in the top of the third, he did. After that home run Kuroda only allowed two hits and a walk until he was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning. It was definitely not a great outing for him, but it was also just Jose Bautista doing Bautista-esque things to the baseball. Thankfully, unlike many other times in the past(I'm looking at you, 2013), the offense picked him up.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Yankees got a couple of dingers. Carlos Beltran hit a solo home run to start it off. Then after McCann and Headley singled, Ichiro did the (nearly) impossible--he hit a home run in a baseball game. It was his first home run of the season and his first since August 30, 2013. It came at the perfect time and gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead.
After Kuroda was lifted in the sixth, the Yankees got some good outings from the likes of David Huff and Shawn Kelley which helped bridge the gap to Dellin Betances and David Robertson. And when they got the ball, they did their thing to finish off the game in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. The Yankees have now won seven of their last eight after the All-Star Break and move into sole possession of second place in the AL East, just 2.5 games back of the Orioles (They will play the Mariners tonight). This is the best baseball they have played all season, and that's pretty awesome. Here's to hoping that continues.
The Yankees will take on the Blue Jays tomorrow for the second game of the three game set at 1:05 PM EST; the starting pitchers will be the newest addition in Chris Capuano for the Yankees and Drew Hutchison for the Blue Jays. You can catch the game on YES or MLB.tv.