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Saturday, April 27, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 4

By Wallace Matthews

A hard-fought Yankees victory, on a day when their ace had less than his best stuff, was a result of inspired managing and fearsome hitting by a guy who'd normally be on the bench for a game like this.

What it means: The Yankees can win minus Mariano Rivera, and with a left-handed DH against -- gasp! -- a left-handed starter.

Shredding the Binder: For the first time this season, Joe Girardi started the left-handed Travis Hafner at DH against a lefty starter in place of the struggling Ben Francisco. And the move paid off when Hafner crushed a ball off J.A. Happ into the bullpen in the fourth inning with two aboard to tie the game at 3. It paid off again in the seventh inning, when Hafner tripled off the wall to drive in Vernon Wells and give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Hafner's six homers and 14 RBIs are second on the team to Robinson Cano's seven and 17.

Wells struck: Wells' line-drive single to center drove in Cano (who had doubled) with one out in the seventh to tie the game at 4. Wells then stole third to seize a share of the team lead in stolen bases. He and Eduardo Nunez both have two.

Cap'n crunched: CC Sabathia allowed a season-high nine hits, including two long home runs, in eight innings. The first homer was by Jose Bautista, who jumped on a first-pitch fastball (89 miles per hour) and lined it into the left-field seats to lead off the fourth inning. The second, by Brett Lawrie, came on a 92-mph fastball and landed deep in the right-field seats leading off the sixth to break a 3-3 tie. Plus, many of the other seven hits were smoked. On the plus side, Sabathia's fastball reached 92 consistently from the third inning on. And despite not having great command, Sabathia gutted out eight innings, saving the bullpen for Sunday's series finale with Phil Hughes getting the start.

Tough inning: In his first day as the everyday starting catcher, Chris Stewart suffered through a nightmarish fourth inning -- allowing a Sabathia curveball to get by him for a passed ball, allowing Edwin Encarnacion to go from second to third and then dropping a perfect throw from right field by Ichiro Suzuki, enabling Encarnacion to score Toronto's third run.

Daredevil: For a guy who'd just missed six games with a sore lower back, Kevin Youkilis made quite an athletic -- and risky -- play in the third inning, sliding into first base to nip Melky Cabrera. And with Emilio Bonifacio on third base, it saved a run for Sabathia.

Wallbanger: Brett Gardner made a terrific play on Bautista's long fly to center in the seventh inning, but he backed hard into the fence and seemed to slam his head backward into the wall. He was slow getting up, but remained in the game.

Good Joba: With Rivera not available after having pitched in two of the past three games, Girardi entrusted Joba Chamberlain with the job of protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning. Chamberlain fell behind 3-0 to the first hitter, Colby Rasmus, but rallied to strike him out. Then, after allowing two singles, he got Rajai Davis to pop out and got Melky Cabrera to ground out to earn his first save since Sept. 20, 2010.

What's next: Hughes (0-2, 5.14) goes against the reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey (2-3, 4.66). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.