The Yankees once again leaned on their rookies in an important game against the Toronto Blue Jays that they needed to win to avoid falling 4.5 games back in the AL East. Luis Severino and Greg Bird were up to the task of leading the Yankees to victory, even though things got a bit dicey before it was all said and done. New York needed ten innings to complete the win, but they have to feel pretty good about fighting back for a win with the season finale against the Blue Jays looming for tomorrow.
Severino won't be credited for the win, but his six innings of two-run ball against MLB's most dangerous offense is an incredible accomplishment for the young right-hander. He allowed only three hits and issued three walks before giving way to Justin Wilson out of the bullpen. Dellin Betances decided to make things interesting in the eighth by allowing a hit and walking two batters to load the bases before managing to work out of it with a strikeout, but not before giving the audience heart failure. You might have thought that would be the hardest part of the game to watch, but you'd be wrong.
The Yankees were holding on to a narrow lead that they got when Carlos Beltran sent a ball over the wall to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the eighth inning. They had a chance to add on to that lead in the ninth when Chris Young worked a walk to lead off the inning, but came up unlucky when the bouncy turf caused a Didi Gregorius double to bounce up over the wall to keep Young from scoring. Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to Jose Bautista in right for the first out of the game and Young was sent home to try and score. Bautista's cannon of an arm nailed Young at home. With Rico Noel on the roster specifically for his speed, which is no doubt better than Young's, it's a little puzzling as to why Joe Girardi chose not to put Noel in the game. Alas, he didn't and the Yankees failed to score a run they would very much miss with the events that came next.
Andrew Miller came on for the save and got a quick out before Dioner Navarro launched a ball to left that would tie the game. Miller struggled from there, needing nearly 30 pitches to get out of the inning and send the game to extras. Brian McCann took advantage of the shift deployed against him with a bunt single to first to lead off the inning. Noel was brought on to run for McCann and Slade Heathcott reached base on catcher's interference while pinch hitting for Brendan Ryan. Then the magic happened. Greg Bird, who has been everything the Yankees could have asked for in taking over for the injured Mark Teixeira, sent a Mark Lowe pitch into the Canadian night to give the Yankees a three-run lead. It was Bird's tenth of the season and his eighth with at least one runner on base.
The Yankees sent an undoubtedly tired Miller back out to close out the game instead of trusting the scary portions of the bullpen, even with a three run lead. Miller, who clearly just did not have it tonight, allowed a home run to Edwin Encarnacion before nailing down the victory. However, the most important thing is that victory was eventually nailed down. The Yankees now find themselves 2.5 games out of the division lead and very much alive in the race. They needed to win tonight, and two rookies made sure they did just that.