This morning when the lineup card was published, there were some mixed reactions.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was given an off day, and George Springer was still out of the lineup as he continues to nurse his sore knee. Raimel Tapia was batting lead off, and Jackie Bradley Jr., although batting ninth, was probably playing the full game today. Add all that up, plus a date with Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, and it certainly was going to be a challenge for Toronto this afternoon against the Yankees.
The Blue Jays were up for the task, as they won their fourth game in a row, defeating New York 5-2. With this win, Toronto clinched their first series win against the Yankees this season, and continue to send the Yankees sliding down a dark path. The Blue Jays now find themselves only seven back of the Yankees in the AL East.
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Cole had not allowed a hit through the first four innings of the game, but it was the bottom of the order that gave Cole fits. Santiago Espinal started things off in the 5th inning with one out, as he launched a double off the left field wall. The Sportsnet cameras looked to fool us once again, as they showed us nothing but the fans in the left field seats after the ball left Espinal’s bat. Once reality set in, Espinal was standing at second with his 23rd double of the season. Danny Jansen followed the hit with a walk, setting up Bradley Jr.
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Bradley Jr. had seen Cole a ton, dating back to his days with the Boston Red Sox. Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t, but Bradley Jr. sent a Cole fastball down the left field line and off the wall for a double to cash in Espinal and Jansen to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi appeared to misplay the ball as he leaped in the air to catch the ball, but it was well outside of his reach as it ricocheted off the wall and gave the runners extra time to make it around the bases. Between Bradley Jr. and Bradley Zimmer (the two CF depth bats this season), they have each had their moments against some of the MLB’s best. Let’s not forget Zimmer’s solo home run off of Justin Verlander earlier this season.
The Blue Jays wouldn’t stop there, as they would load the bases by way of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Tapia both reaching on infield hits, setting up Alejandro Kirk. Kirk shot a ball to left center field for a two-run double, giving Toronto a 4-1 lead. The ball was just out of the reach of Benintendi once again, who made a diving attempt for it and came up short. Bradley Jr. and Tapia would score on the play, but Guerrero Jr. was tagged out at home, on a very humorous trip around the bases.
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Since there was only one out, Tapia waited to see if Benintendi would catch the ball in case he needed to tag at second. Vladdy did not follow the same agenda, as he was already hustling to second. Since Kirk’s ball found some grass, Tapia and Vladdy both went home, just a couple feet apart from each other. Tapia made it, but Guerrero Jr. unfortunately was tagged out. Regardless, it put Toronto ahead by three runs against a team struggling to hit.
A serious tip of the cap goes to the bottom of the order for getting that inning going. Not only did they score runs, but they turned the lineup over to the big bats, and also drove Cole’s pitch count up. Cole threw 30 pitches in the 5th, going from 62 to 92. With a taxed bullpen, he was forced to throw the 6th as well. Cole’s day was over at 106 pitches, going six innings and allowing those four runs. What made it even better for Blue Jays fans were the boos that Cole got from Yankees fans, as well as some sweet footage of Cole yelling in the dugout, frustrated with his performance.
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The eventful 5th inning overshadowed a solid start from Mitch White, who made this third outing as a Blue Jay this afternoon. Despite allowing seven hits, White was able to keep the Yankees quiet through his four innings of work. Not only did White allow a baserunner in all four innings, there was a runner in scoring position in all of those innings as well. Outside of Estevan Florial’s cheap RBI single in the 2nd inning, White put up zeros in front of his family. It would’ve been nice to see White pitch the 5th and try to get him a W, but John Schneider didn’t want White to face the Yankees a third time through the order (more specifically, Aaron Judge).
White’s final line stood at 4 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 5 K’s. Schneider was also able to turn things over to a bullpen that once again put up a great performance.
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A combo of Cimber-Phelps-Bass-Pop-Garcia gave up two hits and one run in five innings of work. The one run was a solo home run by Gleyber Torres off of Zach Pop in the 8th inning, however it was a classic Yankee Stadium home run as it landed into the short porch in right field. It was also only the second run that Pop has allowed since coming over at the trade deadline.
In the top of the 9th inning, Matt Chapman would have his reliever’s back as he hit a solo home run to deep center field to add some insurance, completing the 5-2 score.
Believe it, the Blue Jays can sweep the series tomorrow in the Bronx. They have put themselves in prime position to do so as well, as one of the team’s best take the mound tomorrow in Alek Manoah. It won’t be easy, as Nestor Cortes will take the bump for the Yankees. Cortes is enjoying a stellar All-Star season to the tune of a 9-4 record, a 2.74 ERA, and a 0.98 WHIP.
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