Saturday, April 20, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3
By Wallace Matthews
TORONTO -- This was one of those "it's better to be lucky than good" games. The Yankees, and especially Hiroki Kuroda, were good for 7 1/3 innings, but that wasn't enough to nail down Saturday's game against the Blue Jays.
Then they got lucky on one play, and that did the trick. The Yankees won 5-3 in 11 innings, although this was a game they probably should have won 3-0 in nine. No matter -- a win is a win, and now the Yankees are 10-6, in second place in the AL East, and one win away from a sweep of the Blue Jays, who many thought would run off with the division title after their splashy offseason.
Thrown away: After battling back from a three-run deficit and shifting the momentum in their favor, the Blue Jays literally threw the game away when reliever Aaron Loup fielded Ichiro Suzuki's 11th-inning bunt and fired the ball into left field, apparently not noticing that his third baseman, Brett Lawrie, was not in position to take the throw after charging in for the bunt. Two runs scored on the misplay, and they turned out to be the game-winners.
No escape: Sometimes Houdini can't get out of the handcuffs. The Yankees had things well in hand until the eighth, when David Robertson, their normally reliable setup man who had not allowed a run this season, couldn't contain the Blue Jays, who rallied for three runs to undo all the good Kuroda had done for the first 7 1/3. Coming into a one-out, one-on situation, Robertson allowed two walks and two RBI singles before striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning. But the damage had been done.
A Hiro again: Fresh off his complete-game shutout over the Orioles last week, Kuroda shut down the Blue Jays on just three hits -- one of them a double by Melky Cabrera in the first that Brett Gardner seemed to misread in deep center. Kuroda was effectively wild all day -- two of his fastballs sailed all the way to the backstop and he bounced a half-dozen pitches in the dirt -- but still walked just one and struck out seven in 7 1/3. Kuroda's 20 2/3 inning scoreless streak ended when Robertson, who inherited a runner at first, gave up a walk and an RBI single in the eighth. Still, Kuroda's ERA of 2.34 is second-best among Yankees starters, behind Andy Pettitte.
Groundhog Day:Mark Buehrle hasn't beaten the Yankees since April 10, 2004 -- a stretch of nine years, 10 days -- and on Saturday he again failed to get a win despite pitching reasonably well. Buehrle went seven innings, allowed eight hits -- one a solo home run by Vernon Wells in the second -- struck out seven and walked just one, intentionally, but had to settle for a no-decision as Kuroda stifled the Blue Jays' offense.
Homecoming going Wells: Making new enemies in Toronto with every swing of the bat, Wells -- who gets booed here for having had the temerity to get traded to the Angels after 12 years as a Blue Jay -- hit one off the screen attached to the left-field foul pole in the second to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. That's two homers in two days here for Wells, and five in nine games he has played at Rogers Centre as an opponent. Wells also had the leadoff single that sparked the Yankees' 11th-inning rally. Obviously, the Jays should have held onto him.
Where'd Youk go? The Jays walked Robinson Cano to load the bases in front of Kevin Youkilis in the fifth, and Youk promptly knocked in two runs with a single. He left the game the next inning with no immediate explanation from the Yankees and was replaced at first base by Lyle Overbay. Later, the team announced Youkilis left with tightness in his lower back.
Nix picks:Jayson Nix made three sparklers at third base, leaping to snatch Munenori Kawasaki's liner out of the air in the third, starting a key double-play in the sixth, and making a nice backhand stab and firing a one-hop throw to nail Encarnacion in the seventh.