NEW YORK — After a rain delay, the Blue Jays scored 12 unanswered runs against the Yankees to erase a six-run deficit and reclaim sole possession of first place in the American League East with a 12-6 victory at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
With his team trailing by two runs, Edwin Encarnacion tied the game with a clutch home run in the eighth inning off relief pitcher Adam Warren, driving in Josh Donaldson, who drew a 12-pitch walk just two pitches earlier. Three batters later, Russell Martin broke the tie, unleashing his second home run of the game, scoring Troy Tulowitzki and giving the Blue Jays a two-run lead. Tulowitzki and Martin combined for six hits, five RBIs and three home runs.
“The momentum was shifting in our direction,” Martin said. “Whenever everybody gets that good feeling and is anxious to get up to the plate it’s a good sign. We definitely got a little bit lucky. We got [starter Michael] Pineda out of the game, it looked like he had his ‘A’ game today. You just have to point to the sky and thank whoever’s up there for helping us out right there.”
For Toronto, this meant an opportunity to replace struggling starter Marco Estrada, who surrendered five runs on five hits in four innings. The delay also meant a pitching change for the Yankees, but this proved to be less productive. Pineda, who struck out two in five shutout innings, was forced to exit and give way to Anthony Swarzak, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning.
“We don’t have control for the rain, you know? I felt really good tonight,” Pineda said. “I threw the ball good in the first five innings. I really wanted to keep pitching, but we don’t have control.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Everybody gets a turn: Encarnacion and Martin both hit a pair of two-run shots in the eighth as the Blue Jays completed their come-from-behind victory, but the damage did not stop there. The Blue Jays sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and scored eight runs. Devon Travis had an RBI single, Donaldson drew a bases-loaded walk, Encarnacion drove in another run for his 100th RBI and Michael Saunders hit an RBI double to the corner in right field. Martin’s two-run shot earlier in the inning put the finishing touches on the 12th multihomer game of his career, and the last three have come at Yankee Stadium. The eight runs in one inning matched a season high.
“We just came to life,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “Some big nights out of a lot of guys. Russ, Tulo, Eddie, Donaldson, some great at-bats. … Just a huge game because we were shut down early, and then after last night, maybe that’s the start of something.”
The ‘pen is not mightier: Since the Yankees’ deals that sent Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller to the Cubs and Indians, respectively, before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the bullpen had done more than enough to fill in for the departed stars. In the first 14 games since Aug. 1, the bullpen posted a 2.66 ERA in 50 2/3 innings, a stretch in which the Yankees went 9-5. But the same couldn’t be said of Tuesday, when the ‘pen allowed 12 earned runs in four innings of work after Pineda’s departure.
“It was unfortunate tonight that it all kind of happens at once,” Swarzak said. “It looks terrible and it ruins a great start by Pineda. When guys throw up six runs, it’s 6-0 going into the sixth inning, there’s no doubt you should win that ballgame. That’s not the way it worked out tonight.”
Back to back: The Blue Jays’ offence was struggling, but the rain delay seemed to be just what this ballclub needed. In the sixth, Tulowitzki appeared to hit a lazy fly ball to right field, but it carried over the wall for his 21st homer of the season. Martin followed in the very next at-bat with a deep shot to left-centre field for his 11th homer of the year. It was the eighth time this season Toronto hit back-to-back home runs and it was the combination of Tulowitzki/Martin who did it last time as well — Sunday vs. Houston.
“It just looks like every time he takes a swing, he’s on time,” Martin said of Tulowitzki. “He’s hitting homers, he’s hitting the ball to right field when he needs to. It just looks like he’s seeing the ball extremely well right now. It’s fun to watch when I’m standing on-deck, it kind of gives me confidence.”
Sanchez swats: The Yankees’ rookie catcher temporarily lost his status as trendiest rookie in the Bronx following the Aaron Judge callup, but Sanchez has proved why he’s plenty exciting himself over the past two days. After unloading the second home run of his career into left field Monday night, Sanchez launched two more Tuesday, both of which measured in at longer than 400 feet, according to Statcast™. The second homer, a three-run shot in the fourth inning, measured in at an estimated 419 feet with an exit velocity of 110 mph.
“He’s really good at recognizing what pitchers are trying to do to him and making adjustments,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He understands their repertoire, he sees pitches and he gives you tough at-bats.”
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the second three-homer game for Estrada in a Blue Jays uniform. His first also came at Yankee Stadium, on Sept. 12, 2015.
Tuesday was the fourth game in Major League history in which both starting catchers hit multiple home runs. The others were Sept. 29, 2009, Arizona at San Francisco (Miguel Montero, Bengie Molina); Aug. 9, 1977, San Diego at Montreal (Gene Tenace, Gary Carter); and Aug. 9, 1966, Houston at Chicago (John Bateman, Randy Hundley).
Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (16-3, 2.96) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Yankees on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Happ has allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last four starts.
The Yanks will send CC Sabathia (7-9, 4.20 ERA) to the mound Wednesday for some day-game action to end a brief-but-eventful six-game homestand that included Alex Rodriguez’s retirement, a reunion of the 1996 World Series roster and the callups of Judge and Tyler Austin.
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