The Yankees are supposed to beat the Blue Jays by six runs. It’s expected, especially when the Blue Jays are throwing balls into left field, misplaying fly balls and letting relatively routine plays bounce off their head.
“They had some miscues that helped us out,” Joe Girardi said. “I didn’t feel that we didn’t capitalize on miscues when we were struggling. I didn’t feel that. But (the Blue Jays) had some, and we swung the bats pretty well tonight. We took advantage of some walks early. Our guys were patient and that was important.”
The important thing is this: The Yankees have played better these past few days. This little three-game winning streak isn’t much, but it isn’t accidental either. Last night’s win was legitimately impressive, and tonight, the Yankees turned a one-run lead into a six-run blowout.
“It seems like we’re starting to pick it up a little bit,” Russell Martin said. “We’re making plays on defense, grinding out at-bats on offense and that’s just the key for us. Keep battling and do the little things. Just competing every hitter, one after another, and wearing that pitcher down. That’s what’s been good for us throughout the course of the year, so we have to keep that.”
This Blue Jays roster wasn’t especially good to begin with, and it’s been destroyed by injuries. The Yankees have a chance to gain some easy ground this weekend heading into that Texas series in the Bronx. There’s an opportunity here, and tonight the Yankees took advantage of it.
“It’s a better feeling,” Girardi said. “There’s no doubt about it. But I don’t worry a whole lot about our guys because I think they really know what it takes and they know how to bounce back.”
• Freddy Garcia’s ERA is now 4.85, the first time it’s been below 5.00 all season. He gave another typical Garcia start: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. “I feel pretty good about it,” Garcia said. “When the season started, I was struggling, and they sent me to the bullpen, but things happen for a reason. Come back, and I come back to the rotation again, and I’m doing my job. That’s why I’m here.”
• This was Garcia’s third straight quality start. He has held the Blue Jays to three earned runs or less in his past five outings against them.
• Of course, it’s easy to second guess Girardi’s bullpen usage tonight. Garcia had thrown just 78 pitches when Girardi brought in Boone Logan to face two batters in the seventh. The first batter that inning was Kelly Johnson, who had homered and doubled off Garcia. “Just the at-bats that Johnson had off him previously,” Girardi explained. “I think he had a double and a home run so I just thought I’d make the change and go to Booney. And it worked out.”
• Ultimately, the Yankees used five different relievers tonight, only one of which — Dave Robertson — got three outs. Robertson came in after Joba Chamberlain allowed a leadoff single in the eighth. “We were going to let (Chamberlain) go through the eighth if we could,” Girardi said. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to use Soriano tonight. I had him available, but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to use him. And if Joba got through the eighth, I was going to go to Robbie. … I was really trying to stay away from Soriano. I wanted to make sure, with some of their lefties, that I possibly have Rapada tomorrow. It was 6-2, and I’m not going to let a game get away. You worry about tomorrow, tomorrow, and I’ve got to make sure we win today.”
• Big night for Ichiro Suzuki, who had two hits and five RBI (two of which came on that ninth inning fly ball that was generously ruled a double). “Sometimes I get up to the plate and they say, now playing left-field, Ichiro Suzuki for the Yankees,” Ichiros said. “And that takes me awhile to (think), ‘Oh yeah, I am on the Yankees.’ But everyone on the Yankees has been great to play with. I play with a bunch of great guys so it’s been great.”
• As for playing center field: “It had been a while so I was a little nervous,” Ichiro said. “But there were no tough balls hit to me today so everything went well.”
• Robinson Cano has now hit safely in 37 of his past 42 games. He had two hits tonight and now has 22 multi-hit games since June 20.
• Mark Teixeira hit his 22nd homer int he eighth inning. He’s homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season.
• Ricky Romero gave the Yankees a little bit of trouble early. “Early on, he was throwing a lot of fastballs,” Martin said. “He had a lot of cut on his fastball today, so I think he was just trying to pound us in, the right handers, and mixing in his off-speed a little bit. It looked like he had a little bit of a tough time controlling his offspeed and throwing it for strikes, but he did a good job. He kept them in the game and we found a way to get a couple knocks here and there. He pitched a good game, I thought.”
• Martin on hitting a ball that hit a player in the head: “That was the first time. It was strange, but I’ll take it. It’s like I was setting him up for a goal. He’s probably watching a lot of soccer these days. I don’t know what happened there. I’m sure he’s scratching his head, too.”
• Last word goes to Girardi, talking about Garcia giving the Yankees steady, solid starts: “That’s important because your guys feel it too. You know that if you give him a few runs, you’ve got a good chance of winning the game. He’s going to keep you around, and that’s important to have that feeling when you go out there every day.”
Associated Press photos