Coming off the big comeback victory on Tuesday, the Blue Jays turned to J.A. Happ to try and finish off the series win during and afternoon tilt in the Bronx. The Yankees countered with struggling lefty, C.C. Sabathia.
The scoring started early in this one, as the Blue Jays put up a three spot in the second inning, before giving one back in the bottom half on yet another Gary Sanchez home run. The Yankees would pull within one when Starlin Castro sent one into the seats in the fourth, but the Blue Jays stormed back with four in the top of the fifth, highlighted by a three-run homer for Melvin Upton Jr. – his first extra base hit as a Blue Jay.
The Yankees would tack on another run, but they’d never get close enough to threaten again while Happ was on the mound. Joaquin Benoit struggled, allowing two hits and an inherited run, the Yankees fourth, but Roberto Osuna struck out Gregorius to end the eighth inning with two runners on. He then pitched a clean ninth to close out the win for the Blue Jays and earn his 27th save. Interestingly, he also set the major league record with his 47th save before his 22nd birthday, breaking Terry Forster’s previous mark. He doesn’t actually turn 22 until February of 2017, so he should shatter this record.
With the win, Happ moved to 17-3 on the season, the first person to reach that win plateau on the season. The only runs the tall lefty ended up tying his second longest outing of the season (his longest was 8 2/3 innings against the Giants on May 10), going 7 1/3. He recorded nine strikeouts and walked just one, while allowing only seven hits. He allowed three runs (the fourth was left on first, but Benoit allowed it to score), all on solo home runs, and leaves the game with a very solid 3.05 ERA. It’s impossible to handicap the AL Cy Young race right now, but he’s definitely in the conversation.
The only downside for Toronto in this one was the continued struggles with making contact. When they do hit the ball, they seem to do some damage, but they just keep striking out. Sabathia (7-10) registered 12 Ks in six innings, and the relievers added six more to bring it to sixteen punch outs on the day. It’s a trend to watch for sure, and hopefully it can start to reverse itself as the lineup gets healthier.
The Bashing Bottom
It’s no secret that the bottom of the Toronto lineup has been struggling of late (read: during the 2016 season). They entered the game with a combined line of .223/.277/.322 which would be the lowest OBP in team history from that spot, just worse than the expansion 1977 squad. They stepped up in this game, however. Ceciliani still went hitless, but Barney and Carrera combined for three hits and three RBI. Upton technically doesn’t count, since he was batting sixth, but he has a tremendous game, going 2/3 with a walk, two runs, and the three RBI on the home run. When the bottom of the order gets on base, this offense is very hard to stop.
Russell Continues to Muscle
No home runs in this game from Russell Martin, but he continued the torrid steak he has been on since mid-May. With three more hits today, Martin is now hitting a stellar .282/.395/.520 since May 25, when he hit his first two home runs of the season. The biggest change seems to be his returning willingness to drive the ball the other way, which was key to his incredible 2014 season with the Pirates when he hit .290/.402/.430. He and Tulowitzki continue to be the force driving the middle of the lineup, and there seems to be no signs of slowing down.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
No surprise here. The biggest contribution to today’s win was Upton’s three-run homer in the sixth to put the Jays up by four. The opposite-field blast increased the Jays’ odds of winning by 17.5 percent (.175 WPA) and effectively put the game away. After the home run, New York’s win expectancy dropped all the way to 6.8 percent for the game.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The biggest negative swing in the game came off the bat of Didi Gregorius in the fourth. With the Yankees trailing by just a run and having a runner on first and one out, the young Yankees SS grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and the mini threat. The DP reduced the Yankees odds of winning by 6.9 percent (0.69 WPA). Interestingly, the second biggest out came right before the Upton home run. With runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, Tulowitzki struck out, dropping the Jays win expectancy by 5.2 percent (.052 WPA).
The Blue Jays have an off day tomorrow before heading to Cleveland for a three game set. The opener will likely see Francisco Liriano making his third start as a Blue Jay while the Indians will counter with Trevor Bauer. The game starts at 7:10 pm ET.
Lead Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports