Game 156: NYY vs. TOR — Monday Night Brawling

Well, it was a big brawl of the titans. And oddly, I’m not talking about the other brawl (or debate, to be official) taking place in New York between the two candidates for President. No, the Yankees and Blue Jays certainly got into things a few times tonight. I mean, the Toronto crowd (and team) is never the “nicest” opposing crowd on the road, but scuffles like tonight are ridiculous.

Actually, this evening’s game was bookended with drama. Within 2 pitches, Brett Gardner led off the game with a bunt single that landed him all the way on 3rd on a bad throwing error. He then scored on Gary Sanchez’s ground out to get the Yankees on the board early.

Luis Severino got the start tonight in the final game of the weekend wraparound series against the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, with 1 out, Severino accidentally hit the next batter (it’s obvious, based on where Sanchez set-up behind the plate, by the way) to get the Blue Jays’ first runner on base before loading them up with a single and a walk. Severino walked in the Blue Jays first run of the night to tie up the game before finally getting those needed 2 outs (with the bases loaded, I might add).

So the Yankees came back out for the 2nd inning and their first batter (Chase Headley) got plunked (after he threw behind him too!). It was obviously intentional, and the pitcher was clearly trying to get revenge for the hit batter in the 1st inning. Headley knew it when he threw down his bat, both teams knew it as they streamed out of their dugouts, the entire crowd knew it, you’ll know it. All the home plate umpire did was “warn” the pitcher and both dugouts not to do this again. Again? It’s just been done “again”. Which is what Girardi said to the home plate umpire, who in turn tossed him out of the game.

Oh, but it wasn’t done there. In the bottom of the 2nd, Severino plunked his first batter (I have mixed feelings about whether this was accidental, but based on his sloppy 1st I’m guessing it was) only to get tossed from the game. And both teams met up again for another scuffle. Then for some reason, both bench coach (and acting manager with Girardi watching from the clubhouse) Rob Thomson and pitching coach Larry Rothschild got ejected from the game too. Damage to the Blue Jays: nothing. But I’m not getting into that. Watch the clips yourself and decide.

So, Jonathan Holder came on to replace the now-ejected Severino and closed out the 2nd inning quickly. After 1 out in the 3rd, he struggled a bit, allowing 2 runners on base with a single and a walk. A double then scored the lead runner. James Pazos came on, but an RBI single scored one more run for the Blue Jays before the Yankees kind of regrouped and closed the door on the Blue Jays’ run machine this weekend, for the most part at least.

Yates and Bleier split the next three innings, keeping the Yankees scoreless, despite racking up some pitch counts. In the 7th, Adam Warren came on for a 2 inning stint, breezing through the Blue Jays line-up in a straight 6 outs.

The Yankees had been relatively scoreless since the scuffles in the 2nd inning. But they decided on a last-minute run rally to come back and win it for the “ejected ones”. With 1 out in the 8th, Gardner doubled and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. That knocked the starter out (finally). Just a run shy of Toronto, the Yankees weren’t about to leave it there.

In the 9th, with 1 out, Mark Teixeira (in his last away game of his career) hit a big solo home run to tie up the game. Then Gregorius on base with a single, Aaron Hicks smacked a 2-run home run to give the Yankees the lead. After Solano’s double, that reliever was done for the night. But the next one just walked Gardner and gave up a nice RBI single to Ellsbury and then a sacrifice fly to Gary Sanchez. That extra-extra-extra insurance run was exactly the boost the Yankees needed.

Unfortunately, Dellin Betances wasn’t exactly having the best night once again. A walk, a fielding error (of his own making), a wild pitch, and another walk quickly loaded the bases. Another walk scored a run. (Still really hate these, by the way.) No outs recorded, Betances was done.

In came Tommy Layne, who is usually a short-term reliever or one-off specialist. And boy, did they need a specialist of sorts. A fly out became the first out of the inning, but then a walk scored another runs (no comment), and a single scored yet another. The Blue Jays were within 2 runs now. So a little dribbling ground out made its way to Layne who dove for the out at home himself, a rather pretty play, if I do say so. And another fly ball had Gardner sliding into foul territory to make the catch and closed the door for Layne to earn his first save of the season.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees, Blue Jays win series 3-1.

Also tonight: the Marlins hosted the Mets in Miami tonight, on a night that was supposed to be Jose Fernandez’s start. The entire Marlins roster wore #16, as it will be the last time any Marlins player ever wears #16. They held the requisite moment of silence, but both teams and the crowd knew it was more than “requisite” anything; this was part of the grieving process to honor, to remember, to cherish the moments.

The Marlins won thanks in part to a beautiful lead-off home run by 2nd baseman Dee Gordon to start off the bottom of the 1st inning. It clearly stunned most people into the remembrance and honor of their lost teammate, fellow athlete, and friend. Following the win, the team gathered around the mound that should have been Fernandez’s tonight to continue to grieve and show their solidarity. After a brief speech by Marlins’ star Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins players removed their caps and left them on the mound.

Again, our continued prayers are with all those whose lives and hearts were touched and now broken by the loss of Jose Fernandez.

The Yankees head home to face 3 games against the Red Sox and 3 against the Orioles for the final 6 games of the season. The Red Sox have clinched a play-off berth but not the division, with the Blue Jays (thanks in part to this series) are still in it. The Orioles are still strongly in Wild Card contention, but the Yankees aren’t out of it yet. In two games, however, they will be. Yes, that means they need to lose two more games in this six game span to be officially eliminated from October baseball.

So, set your plans on a double sweep, Yankee fans. Hey, anything can happen, right?

Go Yankees!

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