There were fireworks early and late in this one, first with multiple plunkings and emptying of benches. Then late as the Yankees cranked up the offense and John Gibbons used up a lot of roster spots emptying his bench a different way. Ultimately, the Jays couldn’t overcome the bullpen implosion in the ninth, falling to the Yankees 7-5.
It started off inconspicuosly enough, with a two base error and a sac fly for the Yankees, then a bases loaded walk to Russell Martin to tie it up for the Jays. If you weren’t watching every pitch, you may have even missed Josh Donaldson taking one off of his elbow pad to get a free pass to first. As it turned out, JA Happ noticed that.
As a result, Happ threw behind Chase Headley in the top of the second, and then made sure to hit him on the second try. Todd Tichenor issued warnings. On the first pitch of the bottom of the second, Luis Severino tried to hit Justin Smoak, and missed. This was Tichenor’s one opportunity to assert authority, and use the warning to justify ejecting Severino. We can all dream of a land where umpires are aware of the game they are calling.
After Severino hit Smoak with the second pitch, he was finally ejected, but many, many other people had arrived on the field by that point. There was much pushing and yelling. Eventually, most of the Yankees coaching staff was ejected, and after being reminded that he wasn’t allowed to pitch anymore, Severino left, too.
On a night where the Miami Marlins were literally playing with tears in their eyes for fallen teammate Jose Fernandez, it was pretty embarrassing to watch.
Tulowitzki returned us to our regularly schedule baseball game in the bottom of the third, with an RBI double off the left field power alley wall, giving the Jays a 2-1 lead. Saunders blooped a single to make the lead 3-1 immediately afterward.
Devon Travis was replaced by Darwin Barney in the 6th inning. This may have been the result of a swing Devon took in the fifth, which left him wincing in pain. A reminder that Travis had shoulder surgery in the offseason and returned ahead of schedule.
JA Happ locked it down through the seventh inning, not allowing another Yankee to get as far as third base. The eighth inning would prove to be his last, as he allowed a double, then a single by Jacoby Ellsbury after getting the first out. John Gibbons dipped into the bullpen, getting one out from Biagini, and one from Cecil. The Jays held a 3-2 lead going to the final frame.
With Roberto Osuna unavailable, Jason Grilli was tapped to protect a one run lead in the ninth. After one out, Mark Texeria would remind us why he’s name you’ll never forget to hate in Toronto, planting a second decker on a high pitch from Grilli. Aaron Hicks would follow later with a two run bomb, and the Yankees would eventually score five and head into the ninth in the driver’s seat.
Dellin Betances would do his level best to let go of the wheel at full speed, loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth without recording an out. With a 7-3 lead and the tying run at the plate, he was the replaced by Tommy Layne, who managed to get the whole stadium on their feet for a while, by allowing two runs to cross the plate. Unfortunately, the rally wasn’t long enough or big enough, and Tulo flied out to left field in foul territory to finally end it.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
Aaron Hicks gets the prize, with a stunning .419 WPA from his ninth inning, tie breaking home run.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
As is often the case in a close contest, the last play of the game was the most negative in term of WPA, and Troy Tulowitzki gets tagged with a -.174 for his flyout to left field in the ninth inning. (You had the top play of the night until Grilli showed up, Tulo, stuff happened, though.)
You get and ejection … and YOU get and ejection!
Girardi, Rothschild, Thompson and Severino all ejected on the Yankees side.
Fights and Injuries
The end of the brawl saw Joaquin Benoit limping into the dugout, not the bullpen. If the Jays lose their 7th inning guy because of the dustup, that will be regrettalble. Regrettable too, would be the loss of Devon Travis, who has solidified the Blue Jays second base situation from June onward.
The Red Sox and Orioles had the night off, gaining a half game, Detroit lost to Cleveland, watching them clinch the division, and holding steady in the Wild Card standings.
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