The Blue Jays did a whole bunch of great things that contributed to their win tonight over the Yankees. Kevin Pillar had himself a day — two spectacular catches in the fourth inning, an actual walk (!), an RBI single, a stolen base, and a run scored. So did Darwin Barney — a fantastic catch of his own, and a two-RBI single. Ditto Justin Smoak with his home run, J.A. Happ with another fine start (albeit one that was a little bit shorter than you’d like), and great, unexpected work from Joe Biagini and Jesse Chavez in relief, and great, wholly expected relief work from Roberto Osuna.
It was awesome stuff from some of the more unsung (less sung?) guys on the team, and also featured a Devon Travis nicely working a walk and scoring a run, Russell Martin singling and stinging another ball as hard as just about anything I’ve seen him hit this year (anecdotally), and especially buoying work from the two setup relievers — something the Jays have gotten far too little of this season.
And that’s why I really hate that I kinda feel the need right now to point out that the Yankees did a hell of a job of their own in pissing this one away.
Not to take anything away from the Jays, but oh man. Girardi having Betances ready for the 7th, but not using him until allowing about-to-be-pulled CC Sabathia to face Edwin Encar-fucking-nacion first? And Betances allowing Pillar to take second and come in as a tasty insurance run on Barney’s single? And that throw from Refsnyder! Woof!
But also there was this:
So Betances can’t put the Slider where he wants with Travis , and then forgets who he is pitching to, and goes to fastballs vs. Pillar.
— Greg Wisniewski (@coolhead2010) June 1, 2016
@coolhead2010 It’s Pillar, you don’t have to put sliders IN the zone. This is the where strategy gets glossed over.
— Greg Wisniewski (@coolhead2010) June 1, 2016
I said it on Twitter, and it’s surely a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ll say it again: it felt like the kind of half-inning that the Blue Jays might have had in April. Manager trying to get just a little bit more out of his starter before handing the ball over to the bullpen, then a reliever finding new and creative ways to not shut the inning down, with an embarrassingly bad throw to allow the slow-footed Edwin to come home from second on a single grounded through the hole and into right field.
Only it was Betances pitching!
If this was an instance of the Jays’ luck starting to even out, I sure as hell will take it. Especially because the stupid Red Sox continue to beat up on teams, taking it to the Orioles 6-2 tonight.
But the Jays will at least have a chance to claw back some ground on Boston on the weekend, and they’ll do so having won — as tonight’s victory affirms — the first three of their four straight series with the Yankees and Red Sox — something that didn’t exactly feel like it was going to be the case when Nathan Eovaldi took the mound against R.A. Dickey a week ago tonight and carved the Jays up, allowing two hits and no runs over six innings.
The Jays stand at 28-26 now, but more importantly, they’ve now won nine of 12 coming out of the post-brawl mini-skid, plus six of eight against the Yankees and Red Sox .They’ve climbed almost to .500 at home overall, and finish May with a record of 17-12.
That’ll do! That. Will. Do.
One More Thing…
Lastly, congratulations to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, who — according to John Gibbons when he began his chat with reporters tonight — is retiring from the paper and the Blue Jays beat. I’m sure all kinds of tributes will flow in for the venerable reporter, and Hall of Famer, with deep roots in Ontario, and who has been a fixture on the Jays scene for years. Any tribute I can make will pale in comparison, having only met Bob a couple of times (he was terrifically kind), and generally having been pretty adversarial with just about anything resembling traditional media (or sabr-denying) for a good part of my time writing about the Jays. Probably doesn’t help that I’m not much for flag-waving, either. But who cares about me? Elliott has obviously made a lifetime of connections in the game that fuelled his impressive catalogue of scoops (and, OK, sometimes non-scoops), that coloured the folksy and heart-warming stories he excels at and fans so enjoy, and that have done so much good for Canadian baseball — a subject he obviously cares about deeply. Coverage of the game, of the Jays, and especially of Canadian baseball, will be unquestionably poorer without him, and I wish him nothing but the best as he rides off into the sunset.
Here’s John Gibbons’ post-game tribute:
— Toronto Sun (@TheTorontoSun) June 1, 2016
And here’s the thing:
Bob Elliott was classy and accommodating when my boner friends and I were anything but. He’s a legend and Blue Jays fans are worse off today
— Drew F (@DrewGROF) June 1, 2016