For the first time this season, the Yankees have completed a three-game sweep. Naturally it came with a shutout against the Blue Jays, in what was originally billed as a bullpen game with someone who hadn’t yet made an appearance in 2016. Go figure. The pitching loomed large, however, as New York topped Toronto by a score of 2 - 0.
The Yankees struck first in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Starlin Castro hit a solo home run that just scraped over the left field wall. Marcus Stroman left a hanging slider right over the plate and Castro deposited it into the seats. Stroman showed off some nasty sliders earlier in the game, but this was not one of them:
In a sense, that pitch was the turning point of the game. Stroman was pitching well, but he completely unraveled after the Castro home run. He followed it up by allowing a booming double to Didi Gregorius before quickly walking Mark Teixeira. Brian McCann followed and he hit an RBI single to score Gregorius, extending the Yankees lead to 2 - 0.
Stroman found himself in trouble again the very next inning. With two outs, Brett Gardner slapped a single to right. He advanced to third on a tough luck ground-rule double off of the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury. The ball was ticketed for the left field corner but bounced into the seats. If it didn’t, Gardner would have easily scored. Instead, Castro flew out to center to end the inning.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons let Stroman pitch one more inning before turning the game over to the bullpen. He finished the night having allowed two runs over five innings with eight strikeouts. That’s all the Yankees would need, however, as they used a pair of young right-handers to shutdown the Blue Jays offense.
With Bryan Mitchell making his first start of the season, it was easy to expect the worst. He has a great arm, but could he be trusted to keep the Jays bats quiet? He answered that question with a resounding yes. Mitchell picked up the win in his season debut, throwing five innings of shutout ball. He struck out two while allowing four hits and two walks.
Its tough to ask for a better performance by Mitchell. He ran up his pitch count early but he rebounded with very efficient fourth and fifth innings. The Yankees infield also managed to turn a couple of slick double plays behind him. He came out for the sixth but was lifted after allowing a double to Devon Travis to start the inning. I would have liked to see Mitchell stretched out a little bit longer, he only threw 80 pitches, but that’s nothing to complain about. Great job—we’ll see him in five days’ time.
Luis Severino came on in the sixth and showed off his vicious relief arsenal. While he looked a little shaky to get begin with, Severino settled down and mowed through the Blue Jays lineup. His fastballs were electric and bordered on unhittable. He threw a 99 mph fastball past Melvin Upton Jr. to end the seventh inning.
The only trouble Severino ran into was in the eight inning. After retiring the first two batters, Severino walked Josh Donaldson, bringing up the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion. In one of the more nail-biting moments of the game, Encarnacion hit a long fly ball that threatened a game-tying home run. Aaron Judge had other ideas, however, and made the catch at the wall. Severino finished the night throwing three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit. This was a great fireman showcase for Severino, who could be a real weapon out of the bullpen down the stretch.
Tyler Clippard closed things out in the ninth and picked up his first save back with the Yankees. With this win, the Yankees now sit 2.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot. They’re also just 3.5 games out in the division race, too. For a team that sold at the trade deadline, this is awfully exciting.
The Yankees start a four-game series against the Rays tomorrow, and they’ll hopefully continue to make strides in the postseason race. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm and can be seen on YES.