Following the split of the opening series in Tampa Bay, the Toronto Blue Jays headed home to the Rogers Centre for the first time this season to play in their home opener. The 2nd series of the season came against the active offseason New York Yankees. The series would eventually be decided and come down to one final at-bat.
Before the game officially got underway, recently retired former Blue Jay ace, Roy Halladay threw out the first pitch, and 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, R.A. Dickey received his award. For those outside of Toronto, there was more hype and anticipation coming from the other team in the Blue Jays home opener, in the form of new Yankees signee, 25 year old Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, who made his major league debut on Friday night in Toronto.
Tanaka was greeted into the big leagues rudely by Melky Cabrera, on his 3rd pitch of the game was taken deep for a home run. The Blue Jays would follow that up with a 2-run RBI single in the second from the unlikeliest of bats, Jonathan Diaz. Tanaka overcame the rough start and possible nerves, and settled down–only giving up 3 hits over the next 5 innings. Tanaka’s first start was a successful one, giving up just 2 earned runs, striking out 8 over 7 innings without walking a single batter. Showing his full arsenal, throwing 6 different pitches–which includes a nasty splitter as his main out pitch.
Starting the home opener for the Blue Jays was someone that many did not expect to be in the Jays starting rotation at all coming into spring training, Dustin McGowan made his first start since 2011 and was roughed up early by the Yankees. McGowan surrendered 5 hits to the first 6 batters he faced, resulting in a 2-run spot to begin the game. New York continued to pounce on McGowan early and often–ignited by an instant replay overturning of Ichiro Suzuki‘s single that would have resulted in the 3rd out of the 3rd inning, gave the Yankees another at-bat. Yangervis Solarte took advantage of the call being corrected by doubling in 2 more runs, and retaking the lead from the Blue Jays 4-3. And that was it for McGowan.
The Yankees would continue to tack on runs–3 more to be exact–while Tanaka shut down the Jays and earned his first career MLB win, getting a total of 16 hits and winning 7-3 in front of a sold out 48,197 at the Rogers Centre. The Jays were forced to use 5 of their 7 relievers in the bullpen in the game, and struggling righty Jeremy Jeffress Designated for Assignment, Blue Jays Recall Chad Jenkins from AAA” href=”http://tipofthetower.com/2014/04/05/jeremy-jeffress-designated-assignment-blue-jays-recall-chad-jenkins-aaa/”>Jeremy Jeffress was DFA’d after the game, in return a call up of Marcus Walden (not Chad Jenkins as the team first reported).
R.A. Dickey looked to bounce back from a poor opening day outing in Tampa, and help even up the 3-game series in game 2. In his 2nd start, Dickey had his knuckleball dancing, juking, and jiving–much better than it did in Tampa. Dickey’s first pitch strikes allowed him to work ahead of Yankees batters and continue to go after them aggressively. Dickey kept it scoreless over 6 2/3 innings allowing just 5 hits and not walking a batter–after walking 6 in his first start–until the 6th inning, and striking out 6.
Michael Pineda missed all of 2012 and 2013 after joining the Yankees from the Seattle Mariners, with shoulder surgery. Making his first start in over 2 years, Pineda nearly matched Dickey in their pitcher’s duel. Nearly because Pineda gave up and early run in the 2nd when Josh Thole singled in Adam Lind‘s double. Pineda would shut things down from there, and retire 12 of 13 batters over the next 4 innings to end his outing–1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings.
The game remained 1-0 and kept fans and players anxious, that is until the 8th inning when the Blue Jays blew it open with two home runs off of David Phelps, one by Melky Cabrera–his 2nd in 2 games, and Jose Bautista‘s 3rd–a 2-run shot. Giving the Jays a 4-0 lead, which then allowed Sergio Santos to complete the 7-hit shutout and get his 2nd save of the season–a 4-out save. Setting up the rubber game.
With the playoff bound Toronto Raptors in attendance, the Blue Jays needed to have a more successful season against the Yankees (5-14 in 2013), if they were to have any chance at contending for a playoff spot. And it would have to begin by winning the rubber game and the series on Sunday afternoon.
Drew Hutchison came off a 3-hit shutout in 5 1/3 in Tampa, but would quickly give up his first run of the season in the 1st inning, and then some. Walking both Brett Gardner and Brian McCann, and hitting Alfonso Soriano in the first–they would all come around to score giving the Yankees a 3-run spot to begin the game. Hutchison did not have his best stuff on the day, and gave up 3 more runs in the 4th–capped off by a Brett Gardner 2-run home run–before exiting in just 3 1/3 (6 earned runs on 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts).
Jays bullpen–specifically Todd Redmond, who pitched 3 2/3 of 3-hit shutout–did a stellar job in keeping the deficit to a minimum, shutting out the Yankees over the final 5 2/3 innings.
C.C. Sabathia‘s decrease in velocity was made widely known over the course of 2013, and after a shaky first outing in which he gave up 6 runs against the Astros, this had many questioning whether he would be able to adjust to that drop in velocity. Sabathia, like Tanaka, gave up a lead off home run to Melky Cabrera–who homered in his 3rd straight game, all in this series. However from that point on, Sabathia would figure it out and change speeds on his fastball, changeup and slider to retire 17 of 18 Blue Jays batters into the 6th.
Down 6-1, the Blue Jays would rally late in the game, finally getting to Sabathia in the 6th inning. A 2-out rally that saw the Jays heart of the order–Bautista, Encarnacion, Navarro, Kratz–combine for 4 straight hits and 3 runs. Sabathia finished his start after 6, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits, but for the most part, an encouraging start for the 33 year old.
Despite the Jays best efforts, making things interesting in the bottom of the 9th against closer David Robertson–bringing the winning run to the plate in the form of Colby Rasmus, and then Melky Cabrera. But the Yankees’ 6 run deficit was too much to over come, as Rasmus popped up and Melky hit a line drive but right at the right fielder Ichiro for the final out. Yankees take the series with a 6-4 win in the rubber game.
- Melky Cabrera matched his total of 3 home runs from all of 2013, in just 7 games
- Maicer Izturis continues to be the Jays’ hottest hitter (.500) with 4 multi-hit games in 5 played
- Blue Jays have lost when their starting pitcher gives up at least 1 run, likewise the Jays have only won when their starting pitcher does not give up a run
- Blue Jays are 0-4 when giving up the first run, 3-0 when scoring the first run
- Yankees starting pitching did not walk a single batter in the 3-game series
Jays have Monday off, and await the arrival of the Houston Astros for a 3 game series in Toronto.