Joe Girardi said his sixth-inning trip to the mound was about telling, not asking. He knew he had a strike-throwing, ground-ball pitcher on the mound. He knew the next three hitters in the Blue Jays lineup were 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Girardi decided to walk Juan Rivera before he stepped foot on the field.
“I told Alex to tell the manager that we would do whatever he wanted to do,” Bartolo Colon said.
Colon intentionally walked Rivera, then gave up a single, walk and game-breaking, three-run double. That’s when the game turned. The Yankees have come to trust Colon, and tonight’s game hinged on his ability to get one of those three batters out.
“They had a lot of runners in scoring position,” catcher Russell Martin said. “Bartolo did what he normally does, throw a lot of strikes. We loaded the bases and got in a situation where we needed a ground ball to turn two. We got the ground ball we wanted, just not in the right spot. Sometimes things like that happen.”
The ground ball was Aaron Hill’s go-ahead single. The more unexpected outcome was the four-pitch, bases-still-loaded walk to Eric Thames. Colon was trying to work away, getting Thames to roll over a routine grounder. He missed with four straight pitches. Then came the J.P. Arencibia double.
“He was throwing fastballs,” Martin said. “That’s his best command pitch. You get behind in the count, you still don’t want to make a mistake over the plate and with one swing they have a big lead. He was missing with fastballs away, then the next hitter came up and he’s in a situation where he doesn’t want to throw another ball. He threw a four-seamer over the plate and he put a good swing on the ball.”
• No one asked about the decision to intentionally walk Jose Bautista earlier in the sixth. At this point, that’s gotta be a no-brainer, right? Especially with Yunel Escobar hitting behind him. Can’t let the game’s best hitter — right now — beat you in that spot.
• Girardi on not using Nick Swisher to pinch hit for Jorge Posada late in the game: “I’m thinking about we need a couple base runners. I’m saving Swish (for) if we get closer.”
• Girardi on Robinson Cano, who did drive in every run tonight, but still hasn’t been quite the game-changing hitter we saw last year: “He’s not swinging the bat as well as he was earlier on this year. Last night, he has a big RBI, tonight he has (all) of our three RBI, so he’s still being productive. Maybe you’re not seeing the long ball as much as we did earlier, but he’s still being productive.”
• Carlos Villanueva held the Yankees to one earned run on two hits. This was his first start of the season — and first since 2009 with Milwaukee — and he got the win. He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced. “We haven’t seen him too much,” Derek Jeter said. “Try to make adjustments every time you face someone, but if you can make pitches, you’re going to beat the hitters, and today he made some good pitches. He mixed it up pretty good.”
• The Yankees were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
• Brett Gardner had two stolen bases and Curtis Granderson stole one. Three stolen bases was a season-high for the Yankes.
• Granderson scored all three Yankees runs tonight. According to the Yankees media relations department, he’s on pace for 123 runs, which would be the most for a Yankees center fielder since Rickey Henderson scored 130 in 1986.
• Alex Rodriguez has three straight multi-hit games. He’s quietly pushed his batting average up to .289.
• Chris Dickerson said the leadoff double in the sixth hooked more than he was expecting, which is why he took a funky route toward it. Dickerson said, even without the bad first step, he’s not sure he could have actually caught the ball. Hard to say how much that would have changed the inning, but I can’t get too worked up about that play considering the eight more Blue Jays came to the plate that inning.
• Bautista has 16 home runs in his past 26 games. He has 10 in the month of May, putting him two shy of his own franchise record, which he set last season. “He’s been doing it for, what, a year and a half now,” Jeter said. “It seems like every time he comes up he looks like he’s in a 3-0 count and is trying to hit a home run. It’s pretty impressive to do, but we don’t like to see it.”
• Colin Curtis was in the clubhouse after tonight’s game. When I walked up to say hello, he said, “Watch this,” then held out his right hand. He was able to actually squeeze my during a handshake, something he’s only been able to do for three days. Never tear your labrum almost completely. It’s a pretty nasty recovery.
Associated Press photo