Yankee Bats, Cole Overpower Blue Jays
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Facing Gerrit Cole is never too appealing but give the New York Yankees ace an early lead and the mountain gets that much more difficult to climb. That was the story Tuesday night at Sahlen Field as the Yankees cruised past the Toronto Blue Jays 12-1.
The Jays came into this one with a magic number of three - any combination of Jays wins and Mariners losses totalling three and the Jays would clinch a playoff spot in MLB’s short season playoff format.
This would not be the Jays night however. Jays starter Tanner Roark struggled with his location right out of the gate, working behind in the count and the Yankees made him pay. Aaron Judge laced a one-out single to left and scored on a triple by Aaron Hicks, the Yankees centre fielder driving a ball to right that caromed off the fence away from Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. Hicks scored on a wild pitch by Roark and the Jays were quickly down 2-0 after a half inning.
Roark settled down, retiring nine of the next ten Yankees before being touched for a two out double by Gleyber Torres in the top of the fourth. Gio Urshela followed with an opposite field single to right, scoring Torres and the Yankees led 3-0.
The Jays got one back in their half of the fourth, Cavan Biggio leading off with a homer to left center off Cole, his seventh of the season.
The Yankees extended their lead in the fifth. With one out, catcher Kyle Higashioka singled to left and advanced to second when Roark hit DJ LeMahieu with a pitch. Aaron Judge followed, serving a single to left off the end of his bat to score Higashioka and that was the end of the night for Roark. Reliever Thomas Hatch, struggling of late, was greeted by a two-run single to right by Hicks and the Yankees led 6-1. That finished Roark’s line on the night, the Jays righthander going four and one-third innings, giving up six runs - all earned - on seven hits.
The Yankees weren’t done however, Torres driving in Hicks with a single to left. Hatch retired Urshela to end the inning but the damage was done.
Buoyed by the six run lead, Cole breezed through the fifth inning but ran into trouble in the sixth. Catcher Alejandro Kirk, fresh off a 4 for 4 night at the plate last night, singled to left and advanced to second on a single by Jonathan Davis. Biggio’s soft hit in front of the plate moved both runners into scoring position but the Jays could not capitalize. Bo Bichette grounded to third and Urshela easily threw out Kirk at the plate, the Jays catcher mistakenly breaking for home. Teoscar Hernandez grounded into a fielder’s choice and the opportunity was gone.
An encouraging note on this night was the performance of Jays reliever Chase Anderson, who worked two and two-thirds innings and , while giving up three runs, arguably deserved a better fate. He retired the first eight Yankees he faced, including five consecutive strikeouts. But with two out in the eighth Urshela doubled, and Clint Frazier walked on a close pitch that had Anderson walking off the mound expecting a called third strike. Anderson didn’t get the call and that opened the floodgates, the Yankees scoring three times in the inning, the big blow a two-run double by Higashioka to give the Bronx Bombers a 10-1 lead. They would add two more in the ninth off beleaguered Jays reliever Wilmer Font to complete the rout, a fifteen hit attack that demonstrated the strength of the Yankee lineup from top to bottom.
Cole worked seven innings, giving up just one run on five hits while striking out seven to register his seventh win. Roark took the loss, his third against two victories.
Having split the first two games of the four game series, the Jays hand the ball to lefthander Robbie Ray (2-5) tomorrow night. He’ll face Yankee veteran righthander Masahiro Tanaka (3-2). First pitch at Sahlen field is 6:37 p.m.