As evidenced by what happened after Wednesday’s walk-off win, it’s going to take more than one victory for the Yankees to get out of their funk. However, the way this particular game played out should hopefully provide some sort of morale boost.
After taking two separate one-run leads, the Yankees couldn’t get either of them to hold up. A seventh-inning rally by the Blue Jays potentially threatened to drag the Yankees back down into defeat, after they essentially wasted a very good Nestor Cortes outing.
Thankfully for the Yankees’ sake, they didn’t wilt when the pushback came this time. A very important two-run shot by Andrew Benintendi in the home half of the seventh gave the Yankees the lead once more, and they eventually managed to hang for a big 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays, who slipped to eight games behind New York in the AL East.
The Yankees got a little bit of much-needed luck to get on the board in the first inning. With Anthony Rizzo on first after a single, DJ LeMahieu grounded one perfectly through the shift and into left field. Rizzo, having already been on the move on the hit-and-run, headed toward third for what potentially could’ve been a close play. To Toronto’s dismay, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s throw to third skipped past Matt Chapman, allowing Rizzo to dash home and score.
On the other hand, it was some bad luck that evened the game in the third. Leading off the inning, Whit Merrifield hit one towards the wall in center. The ball bounced off the top of the wall twice before going over for a home run, evading the attempts of Aaron Hicks to corral the ball and get it back into play.
The Yankees answered back against Alek Manoah in the bottom of the third, but it came on yet another slightly strange play. With Benintendi and Rizzo on after walks, LeMahieu hit one hard towards shortstop. Bo Bichette tried to snag it with his glove, but missed, allowing the ball to bounce past him and into the outfield. Benintendi came around and scored, putting the Yankees back in front. (Manoah briefly caused some hot tempers in the fifth by plunking Aaron Judge, but nothing came of it.)
After Cortes finished his day by striking out the side in the sixth, the Yankees went to the bullpen for the seventh. His final line would be six innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out five. Even with the offense being the primary culprit for New York’s August slide, this was the kind of true stress-free outing from a starting pitcher that has eluded New York all too often this month.
Regrettably, Cortes would not be awarded the W for his effort.
Jonathan Loáisiga came in and allowed a bloop single to start the seventh, though he nearly erased it with a double play. The Yankees couldn’t quite turn it, and Loáisiga then issued a walk to Merrifield. At that point, manager Aaron Boone went back to the bullpen and brought in Wandy Peralta with Cavan Biggio set to pinch-hit for Santiago Espinal. However, Jays skipper John Schneider countered by sending up Yankee killer George Springer instead, and he promptly singled to load the bases. Peralta got a little too careful with No. 9 hitter Jackie Bradley Jr., who walked to tie the game.
The lone solace was that Toronto could have done a lot more with this prime opportunity. Gurriel bounced into a force out at home that nearly turned into a twin-killing, but the subsequent bullpen trip to replace Peralta with Lou Trivino ended up being worthwhile. In perhaps his biggest challenge yet as a Yankee, the former Athletic got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to ground out with the bases packed with Blue Jays, ending the inning. Still, the Yankees had more work to do.
Trivino’s batterymate, Jose Trevino, got that work started in the bottom of the seventh by beating out the throw on a grounder for an infield single. After a sac bunt by Marwin Gonzalez, Benintendi picked the perfect time for his first Yankee home run. He took a pitch into the second deck in right field, putting the Yankees back in front with his first bomb since June 20th.
Trivino remained in for the top of the eighth and threw a 1-2-3 inning, courtesy of a little help on a nice play from Oswaldo Cabrera. After the Yankees couldn’t add to their lead in the bottom of the eighth, Trivino came back out again for the ninth. Although he issued a walk, he otherwise managed to work around it and finish things off in a massive 2.1-inning outing.
Things likely aren’t going to get any easier considering that Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom are the projected opposing starters for the upcoming Subway Series, with Scherzer getting the ball first on Monday against Domingo Germán (first pitch at 7:05pm ET). Nonetheless, everyone can at least take a second to exhale after this Yankees win.