TORONTO -- If it is true that momentum is determined by today's starting pitcher, then J.A. Happ and Andy Pettitte combined to give the Yankees back their mojo tonight. Happ woke up the Yankees' bats and Pettitte put the Toronto Blue Jays to sleep, and, just like that, the horrors of Monday night -- and the near-horrors of the first inning Tuesday -- are forgotten. For now, anyway.
Their 7-1 victory tonight puts the Yankees four games back in the wild-card race and keeps hope alive as we move into the final 30 games of the season.
Dandy Pettitte: Pettitte turned in his best performance since his first start of the season by shutting out the Blue Jays for seven innings on five hits. Staked to a four-run first-inning lead, Pettitte was aided by two double plays and a terrific throw from center fielder Brett Gardner to cut down the Blue Jays' only real scoring chance of the night. Pettitte needed just 86 pitches to navigate the seven innings and, in winning his third straight start, is rounding back into form just as the Yankees need him the most.
Robbie Oh, No!: The Yankees suffered a potentially crippling blow to their playoff hopes when Robinson Cano was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Happ -- yes, him again -- in the first inning and was unable to come out to play the field in the bottom of the inning. Happ, who broke Curtis Granderson's right forearm in spring training, threw an 0-2 fastball to Cano that ran in on his hands and caught him near the pinkie of his left hand. Cano was in obvious pain as trainer Stevie Donohue tended to him but stayed in the game long enough to score on Alfonso Soriano's home run on the very next pitch. Perhaps in retaliation for the beaning, or maybe just in admiration of the flight of the ball, Soriano dramatically flipped the bat away on contact and stood at home plate watching the ball, which hit the facade of the third deck at the Rogers Centre. Cano was replaced at second base by Eduardo Nunez.
Robbie, Oh, yeah: It took awhile, but by the seventh inning, the Yankees announced that X-rays of Cano's left hand came back negative. He is listed as day-to-day.
Nunie, too?: The Yankees had another scare in the eighth, when Nunez inexplicably collapsed to the turf while moving toward second on a potential double-play grounder. He, too, appeared to be in considerable pain and was worked over for quite a while by Donohue. Not only did he stay in the game, he singled to open the ninth. He was removed for pinch runner Lyle Overbay later in the inning, however, forcing Mark Reynolds to move from first to second. We'll have an update on Nunez's condition shortly.
Slapp Happy: Except for the Cano injury, the Yankees had their way with Happ in the first inning. Gardner led off with a double off the right-field wall that just missed leaving the park, and, after he moved to third on a wild pitch, scored on a single up the middle by Derek Jeter on his first hit and RBI since his return from the DL. Soriano's homer, with Jeter and Cano on base, gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead before the Blue Jays even came to bat.
Milestone blast: Soriano's second blast of the game was less impressive -- this one hit the top of the left-field wall on its way down and caromed into the bullpen -- but it was the 400th of his career. It also gave him 11 homers in just 115 at-bats as a Yankee, which ties him with Vernon Wells for most homers on the team by a right-handed hitter. Wells needed 370 at-bats to get his 11, though.
Gunned: Gardner's one-hop throw from medium center field, combined with a great catch and sweep tag by Chris Stewart, cut down Moises Sierra at the plate as the Jays' right fielder, who had doubled, tried to score on Ryan Goins' single to center.
Tin foil: Otherwise known as Reynolds Rap, a home run to left by Mark Reynolds in the sixth gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
Watch out, Willie: Alex Rodriguez's solo shot in the seventh inning was not only his fourth of the season and his second in two nights but No. 651 of his career, putting him just nine behind Willie Mays, who is No. 4 on the all-time list. It also moves A-Rod one home run closer to that $6 million bonus the Yankees are just dying to pay him.