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Yankees 3, Blue Jays 0: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton deliver in extra innings

A couple extra-innings home runs reward Sonny Gray for a wonderful performance

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
One of a couple key double plays turned tonight
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

If you’re the type that believes baseball has a pace of play problem, and that Rob Manfred must do something drastic to speed up that game, tonight was the game for you. The Yankees and Blue Jays slogged their way through thirteen innings in just 3 hours and 42 minutes. At the end of it all, the Yankees could celebrate both a terrific Sonny Gray start and a win, as they topped the Jays 3-0 to sweep this quick two game series.

The big story tonight should be the dominance of Sonny Gray. Coming off a good start against Baltimore last week, Gray was nothing if not outstanding tonight, perfect through four innings and throwing eight total innings of shutout ball. He struck out eight while allowing just four baserunners, and aside from a brief bases-loaded jam never looked uncomfortable the entire game.

On top of the eight strikeouts, Gray induced nine ground ball outs, which are crucial in the tiny ballparks of the AL East. Two of those came in the aforementioned jam, in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on the corners in a 0-0 game, Gray got a soft grounder to third baseman Miguel Andujar, who made a great decision to come home with the throw for an easy tag on Justin Smoak. Two batters later, after Russell Martin walked to juice the bases, Devon Travis bounced a double play ball to end the inning and the threat. It’s one thing for Gray to miss bats, but if he can do that while he generates soft contact on balls that ARE put in play, the Good Gray may stick around awhile.

There were a couple instances where Gray gave up relatively hard contact, but the defense worked well behind him. Both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge had a couple of nifty running catches to keep the Jays off the board.

Offensively, we went more than a full game without anything much at all. The Yankees put runners on the corners once, and loaded the bases once, but really didn’t seem to be able to muster much solid contact off Sam Gavilgio. Credit to him and his annoying 89 mph two-seamer, he kept the Yankees off balance most of the night and paralleled Gray’s own start in a lot of ways. Probably the hardest hit ball in “regulation” was a line drive off Austin Romine’s bat that found Devon Travis’ glove, at the time saving a run and ending an inning.

All the team needed, it seems, was a lucky thirteenth inning. Brett Gardner reached base with a one out single, and Aaron Judge, well:

Two batters later, Giancarlo Stanton hit the hardest home run of 2018:

A couple of laser beams was all it took to put the Yankees up 3-0. After Chad Green, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined for some stellar relief work, Aroldis Chapman gave up a double in the bottom of the 13th. Aside from that, it was smooth sailing for all the relievers, and Chappy worked two quick outs for the save and the sweep.

A quick aside, but Todd Tichenor’s strike zone was awful. Both dugouts were giving him grief all night, and it’s hard to blame them. Look at the top of the zone, where the red called strikes line up perfectly with the black called balls:

I don’t care that the strike zone was called equally terribly for both sides; it was still terrible. This may be confirmation bias – so grain of salt – but it feels like the umpiring in 2018 has been worse than usual. At some point MLB has to step in.

The Yankees won their 40th game of the season and could very well add to that total with an interleague series against the Mets this weekend. First, they’ll take a much-needed rest day after playing four games in three days, so we’ll see you all back here Friday night for a 7:10pm first pitch.