The Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays met up in the Bronx on Friday night for the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. Both teams were playing well coming into the game, but it was the Yankees, after falling behind early, that battled back to beat the Jays, 6-4, to improve to 7-1 since the All-Star break.
Jose Bautista did all of the heavy lifting for the Blue Jays, driving in all four of their runs on a pair of homeruns. The first, in the 1st, put the Jays up 3-0. Jose Reyes lead off the game with a bloop single into center field, then two batters later, Melky Cabrera singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Then Hiroki Kuroda hung a pitch to Bautista, and he made him pay by sending it far into the left field seats; not a cheap shot, as they'd say.
Facing left-hander Mark Buehrle, who hadn't won since June 1 and has also never been successful against the Bombers in his career, the Yankees closed the gap by putting up a pair of runs in the bottom half of the 2nd.
Brian McCann and Chase Headley opened the inning with back-to-back singles, then Buehrle walked Ichiro Suzuki to load the bases with nobody out. Brian Roberts put the Yanks on the board by beating out an infield single, scoring McCann. After Francisco Cervelli, who collected a pair of hits in the game, struck out, Brett Gardner made it a one-run game with a sac-fly into the right-center field gap.
The Blue Jays, or should I say Bautista, was quick to respond in the top of the 4th inning, hitting a solo blast off of Kuroda -- his 20th of the season -- to extend Toronto's lead to 4-2.
The 28-pitch 1st inning really hurt Kuroda, forcing Joe Girardi to pull him from the game with two outs in the 6th. Other than David Phelps' five inning complete-game on Wednesday, I believe that Kuroda is the first Yankee starter to go less than six innings since the All-Star break. He ended up with 94 pitches, giving up the four Bautista RBIs on eight hits, while walking one and striking out three.
The Yankees took a 6-4 lead in the 3rd inning with a four-run frame against Buehrle. Carlos Beltran hit a one-out solo homerun, his 11th of the year, into the left field seats to make it a 4-3 game. McCann and Headley followed with back-to-back singles, then Ichiro pulled off the biggest plot twist of the night, hitting his first homerun of the season, a three-run shot that put the Yankees up by two runs to cap off the early comeback.
Buehrle, in case you were wondering, didn't make it past the 3rd inning. John Gibbons went to his bullpen in just the 4th inning. Buehrle was charged with six runs in nine hits, with a walk and two strikeouts.
It took David Huff just seven pitches to both record the final out of the 6th inning after replacing Kuroda, and then getting the first two outs of the 7th before handing the ball to Shawn Kelley, who needed six pitches to retire Dan Johnson for the final out of the inning.
Bautista hit a one-out double off the glove of Roberts in center field -- he was running backwards for the ball and it hit off of his glove while going for the over-the-shoulder grab -- but that was the only bad mark of a scoreless 8th inning by Dellin Betances.
Then David Robertson came on in the 9th, and he struck out two of the four hitters he faced to lock down his second save in as many days -- 26th of the year. Man, he and Betances could make a very deadly combo in the 8th and 9th for many years down the road. The Yankees first need to give Robertson the contract extension that he desperately deserves.
Chris Capuano will make his Yankees debut on Saturday, starting in place of Chase Whitley, who was moved into the bullpen on Friday. He'll be going up against RHP Drew Hutchinson at 1:05 pm ET.