Yankees Sweep Division Rival Blue Jays

Entering this week’s series against the Toronto Blue Jays, things looked grim for the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers were in fourth in their division, squarely out of playoff contention at the moment. Compared to their preseason hopes of winning their twenty-eighth title, things were absolutely not going according to plan for the Yankees. Although they were a game above .500 entering the series, they had lost six of their last ten, including a sweep by division rivals in the Boston Red Sox. To put it simply, things were bleak for the Yankees. However, they hoped to turn their skid around as they traveled to Buffalo to take on their division rival Blue Jays.

Yankees Game 1

The first game of this series pitted Blue Jays’ hurler Hyun Jin Ryu against the Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery. Neither pitcher had been having a fantastic season on the mound to date, so it was unlikely that it would have been a pitchers’ duel.

The Blue Jays kicked off their scoring effort in the bottom of the first with a Teoscar Hernandez sacrifice fly that scored Marcus Semien. The Jays jumped ahead, 1-0.

The Yankees then answered back quickly at the top of the second.  Catcher Gary Sanchez swatted a homer deep over the left-field fence. This was his ninth home run of the season, and the Yankees tied the game back up, 1-1.

Scoring went stagnant for the remainder of the second inning. However, Bo Bichette took the pitch deep over the right-center fence, giving him his fourteenth homer of the season. This gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

At the top of the fourth, Yankees rookie Chris Gittens tied the game up once more with his first career home run.  His first big fly ended up deep over the left-center wall. This set the score at 2-2.

The Blue Jays were tired of the back-and-forth scoring, and their efforts in the fourth inning showed this. During Bo Bichette’s at-bat, Jordan Montgomery threw a bad pitch. It ultimately was out of the reach of Gary Sanchez and bounced behind him. Scorers ruled this as a passed ball.  While this was all happening, Toronto’s utilityman Joe Panik hustled home from third. Panik scored, making the score 3-2.

Bichette continued his heroics during the game when Montgomery finally gave him a pitch to hit. He slapped a line drive to shallow left field. This hit allowed Santiago Espinal and Marcus Semien to round the bases and head home. Bichette’s third RBI of the game gave Toronto a 5-2 lead. While this scoring onslaught seemed to give the Jays a solid lead, it would be the last time they scored all game.

Scoring went dry until the top of the sixth. Miguel Andujar grounded out, but his contact was able to drive home Gio Urshela and move Gary Sanchez to third. This brought the Yankees a little closer to the lead, pushing the score to 5-3.

The following inning, in the top of the seventh, the Yankees were able to tie the game at five runs apiece. Veteran outfielder Brett Gardner hit a leadoff homer off of reliever Anthony Castro. A couple of batters later, Castro threw a wild pitch that allowed DJ LeMahieu to score. This knotted the game up at 5-5.

At the top of the eighth, Clint Frazier stepped to the plate with a tie ballgame. Tyler Wade stood on base, waiting for Frazier to drive him in. Frazier waited for the pitch to hit, and then slugged a double into left field. This drove Wade home and gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead. The scoring ended here, giving Frazier the go-ahead hit.

Yankees Game 2

The second game of the series pitted the Yankees’ ace, Gerrit Cole, against Toronto pitcher Ross Stripling. This game was far more of a pitcher’s duel than the last.

Cole threw a phenomenal outing, allowing only two runs during his eight innings on the hill. He also allowed only five baserunners, four of which came via hits and one by way of a batted ball. What was strange, though, is that Cole only struck out four batters the entire game. This is quite peculiar, as this season, he has averaged nearly 12 strikeouts every 9 innings. This comes at a time when Cole is the object of speculation over the league’s foreign substance scandal amongst pitchers. Although there is no definitive proof that Cole had been cheating, it is interesting nonetheless.

Both teams scored one run apiece in the first. Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI lineout to left field that drove in LeMahieu. The Jays answered quickly with a Marcus Semien leadoff homer to left field. This gave the game a 1-1 score following the first inning.

Scoring came infrequently during this game. It did not pick back up again until the bottom of the fifth when Cavan Biggio slugged his sixth homer of the season. It was a solo shot, giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

At the top of the seventh, Gary Sanchez ended the scoring for the game. He stepped up to bat against Stripling with Miguel Andujar waiting on base. Sanchez then proceeded to hammer his second homer of the series deep down the left-field line. This moonshot was the final run scored in the game, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead that would extend to the end of the game, giving them a victory by the same score.

Yankees Game 3

The final game of the series came on Thursday, with a pitching matchup between the Yankees’ Michael King and Toronto’s T.J. Zeuch. Unlike the game on Wednesday, this would not be a pitcher’s duel, but rather a high-scoring affair.

The Yankees built a lead early.  At the top of the second, a Miguel Andujar fielder’s choice put the ball in play, eventually allowing Gio Urshela to score on an error. This made the game 1-0.

The scoring continued for the Yanks at the top of the third. Gio Urshela demolished a T.J. Zeuch pitch 424 feet over the left-field fence with a two-run homer that drove in Giancarlo Stanton. As a result, the Yankees pushed ahead 3-0.

However, the Blue Jays answered back quickly. At the bottom of the third, Toronto’s Reese McGuire slapped a double to right, allowing Santiago Espinal to score their first run. A couple of at-bats later, Bo Bichette continued his solid performance in the series. Although Bichette grounded out, his contact allowed McGuire to score. These two plays allowed the Jays to close in on the Yankees, trimming their lead to 3-2.

The Jays continued their scoring efforts in the fifth and sixth innings. On a 2-0 pitch with one out, a Marcus Semien groundout allowed Santiago Espinal to score his second run of the game, knotting the game at three runs apiece. In the bottom of the sixth, Randal Grichuk took a 2-1 pitch into shallow center field. This allowed the Blue Jays to jump ahead when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. scored. This made the score 4-3 in favor of Toronto.

The Yankees were down, but not out. In the top of the seventh, they scored three runs to get ahead. A Giancarlo Stanton two-run homer gave them a 5-4 lead. The scoring was furthered by a Chris Gittens RBI single that drove two runs in. The Yankees made the score 7-4, and never looked back. Although they would score again in the ninth off Chris Gittens’ third RBI of the game on a sac fly, they maintained their lead and won 8-4.

Summary

In a season that has been somewhat disappointing thus far for the Yankees, this series symbolizes a spark of hope. A three-game sweep against a divisional opponent is always a good thing, especially when you are desperately in need of divisional wins like the Yankees are now. Ultimately, this is a bright spot for the Yankees, as they hope to carry this hot streak back to the Bronx when they play the red-hot Oakland Athletics on Friday.

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