Boy what you say about this ball club?
After three straight nail biters against the Rays and another potential playoff team, it felt like the Yankees needed to be crushing the ball again and not relying on their powerful relief arms for a night. And they did just that, hitting four home runs to win the first game against the Blue Jays 12-3.
It was pretty much one of those ‘they had us in the first half won’t lie’ games. Yankee hitters had more than a few really strong plate performances against Ross Stripling – Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres worked particularly well with him – they really didn’t have much to show for it. Blue Jays youngster Gabriel Moreno opened the scoring in the second game with a singles groundball that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead.
New York managed something against Stripling in the fourth as Torres continued his strong night, sharing the outfield with an RBI double who brought in DJ. Torres himself scurried to the right side of a displaced infield in front of Kyle Higashioka’s bat with a dribbler (more evidence for not going right-handed), and the Yankees had a lead themselves, but it really felt like it should more than be 2:1.
Well, enter the fifth inning:
At no point did I think that ball from Stanton’s racquet would leave the stadium, and yet it did. 4-1 Yankees, and metaphorically the dam broke.
I enjoy that the little flair to the right, just carried and carried, was hit by Stanton, and the roaring left to center, no doubt, was DJ’s home run. Funny little reversal of what we might expect. Torres and Joey Gallo followed with two doubles to make it 6-1.
After Aaron Judge intentionally walked, Anthony Rizzo delivered the dagger for the second straight night:
It was a lot of fun comparing Rizzo’s performance in the Bronx to him on the road. When he came into the game today he had a 144 wRC+ at Yankee Stadium and was underperforming on the road. At least tonight he hit those splits, and his thing really was the knockout punch as the Yankees hit double-digit runs for the 11th time this season.
In order not to get lost in all this, Jordan Montgomery was also very strong. He beat the first two men he faced and before Alejandro Kirk scored at the end of the sixth, only Moreno could register a strike from the left. It bodes well for your season if you play six innings, concede two runs and your ERA actually goes up, but he’s remained the unsung hero of the rotation and perhaps the entire team.
Manny Bañuelos came to work on a three-point save and things didn’t go too well for him. Without much command, he allowed a run in 1.1 innings, walked two against a single strikeout, and overall struggled to put together competitive pitches:
Bañuelos has been a really beautiful story and didn’t really get anything wrong in his seven innings ahead of tonight, but you’re wondering how long he’s been with the roster. The club clearly don’t dare use him in almost any other scenario and when you’re getting scanty innings you really need to make them count. He just doesn’t have it.
Gallo capped us off with one of the cleanest shots he’s made as a Yankee:
I said in the comments that, by and large, home runs are a product of a good process. You just don’t accidentally hit baseballs 400 feet. You choose a place to ride, and your swing from your feet all the way up needs to be in line. Hopefully this process is repeatable and Gallo keeps making this lineup more and more dangerous.
With Banuelos out of the game, Miguel Castro and Lucas Luetge covered the last five outs with no drama. The final score was 12-3, New York.
After tonight, the worst-case scenario is the Yankees leaving Toronto nine games in the running for AL East. They will face tough tomorrow against Alek Manoah, he of the 1.67 ERA and he who seems to have a deep, personal vendetta with the Yankees based on his four starts against them so far in his young career. Manoah is really good, but this is the best team in baseball and Jameson Taillon isn’t a wimp himself, so my expectations are high. The first pitch for this one comes at 3:07 p.m. Eastern.