NEW YORK – J.A. Happ became baseball’s first 17-game winner of the season and the Blue Jays became the sixth visitor in history to win five consecutive series at Yankee Stadium with a 7-4 victory Wednesday afternoon.
Happ tossed 7.1 strong innings, yielding just seven hits and one walk, while striking out nine to run his season record to 17-3. Three of New York’s four runs came on solo homers.
After losing the first game of the series 1-0 on Monday, the Jays rebounded with a 12-6 victory Tuesday, then pounced on CC Sabathia for three runs in the second inning Wednesday and never trailed.
The Blue Jays last were beaten in a series at Yankee Stadium in September of 2014. The last team to win five consecutive series at the home of the Yankees was the Cleveland Indians, who did it between the years 1967 and 1969.
They put the game on ice in the fifth inning when they scored four times, three of them on Melvin Upton’s first home run since becoming a Blue Jay three weeks ago.
With Jose Bautista already on the disabled list, there was some concern when Josh Donaldson was removed after the sixth inning with what was described as a jammed thumb. This came after what appeared to be a sharp verbal exchange between Donaldson and manager John Gibbons following Donaldson’s third-inning strikeout.
When Donaldson came back to the dugout after that strikeout, he threw his bat forcefully in the dugout. Gibbons confronted him and, after exchanging words, the two were separated by Josh Thole and Troy Tulowitzki.
Russell Martin, who belted two home runs on Tuesday, had three hits for the Jays in this one. Melvin Upton’s three-run homer in the fifth was the key blow for Toronto.
The good news early for Yankee starter Sabathia was that he struck out five Blue Jays in the first two innings. The bad news was that he was, at the send of those two innings, trailing 3-0.
After he fanned Russ Martin to start the top of the second inning, Sabathia yielded a single to Tulowitzki. He walked Melvin Upton and then Ezequiel Carrera launched an opposite-field RBI double off the left field wall, scoring Tulowitzki. With runners at second and third, Darwin Barney drove the first pitch he saw down the third-base line for a two-run double.
The Yanks got one back in the bottom half of the inning when catcher Gary Sanchez pounded his fifth home run, all of them coming in his last seven games. Tuesday, he homered twice against Marco Estrada and Wednesday he hit Happ’s first pitch 430 feet to dead centre field.
The Yanks cut into the lead again in the fourth when Starlin Castro led off with his 15th home run just inside the foul pole in left to make it a one-run game.
The Blue Jays erupted for four runs in the fifth to take command. It started with a hot smash by Travis that Didi Gregorius gloved but he caught a cleat in the dirt as he attempted the throw and the ball skittered harmlessly on the grass. It was liberally interpreted as a single. With Travis running on the pitch, Donaldson then hit a grounder to third baseman Chase Headley, who failed to see Travis breaking for second and tried for the double play. Both runners were safe.
Encarnacion then hit what should have been a double-play ball to Headley. He stepped on the bag at third, but threw wildly at first, leaving runners at first and third. Martin then rapped a single into right field to score Donaldson. After Tulowitzki struck out, Upton hit a lazy fly ball to the short porch in right. It landed about five rows deep for his first home run as a Blue Jay, a three-run shot that made it 7-2.
Sabathia left after six innings. He gave up seven earned runs on nine hits and one walk, striking out a dozen.
With one out in the sixth, Headley hit New York’s third solo home run of the game, cutting the lead to 7-3. Happ pitched around two more singles in the sixth inning and eventually left the game with one out and a runner on first in the bottom of the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit got the second out but then gave up back-to-back singles by Sanchez and Judge to make it a three-run game.
Roberto Osuna came on at that point to strike out Didi Gregorius and end the threat. He then proceeded to take out the bottom of the Yankee order in the ninth to complete the save, his 27th of the season.
Ken Fidlin via Toronto Sun | Photo: assets1.sportsnet.ca
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