Boy, what do you say about this ball club?
After three straight nail-biters against the Rays, and facing another potential playoff team, it felt like the Yankees needed to get back to crushing the ball, and not rely on their high-leverage relief arms for a night. And, uh, that’s exactly what they did, pounding out four home runs to take game one against the Blue Jays 12-3.
This was very much one of those “they had us in the first half, not gonna lie” kind of games. Yankee hitters had more than a few really strong plate appearances against Ross Stripling — Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Gleyber Torres particularly worked him well — they really didn’t have much to show for it. Blue Jays prospect Gabriel Moreno opened the scoring in the second, with a groundball single that put Toronto up, 1-0.
New York did manage something off Stripling in the fourth, as Torres continued his strong night, splitting the outfield on an RBI double that brought DJ in. Torres himself scampered home on a dribbler to the right side of a shifted infield off Kyle Higashioka’s bat (more evidence not to shift on righties), and the Yankees had themselves a lead, but it really felt like it should be more than 2-1 .
Well, enter the fifth inning:
At no point did I think that this ball off Stanton’s bat was going to leave the ballpark, and yet, it did. 4-1 Yankees, and metaphorically, the dam broke.
I enjoy that the little flair to right that just carried and carried was hit by Stanton, and the booming no-doubter to left-center was DJ’s home run. Fun little reversal of what we might expect. Torres and Joey Gallo followed with a pair of doubles, making it 6-1.
After Aaron Judge was intentionally walked, Anthony Rizzo delivered the dagger for the second night in a row:
It’s been very fun to compare Rizzo’s performance in the Bronx against him on the road. Headed into play today, he had a 144 wRC+ at Yankee Stadium, and was below average on the road. For at least tonight, he beat those splits, and his dinger really was the knockout blow as the Yankees scored double digit runs for the 11th time this season.
Not to be lost in all this, Jordan Montgomery was really strong as well. He struck out the first two men he faced, and before Alejandro Kirk homered in the bottom of the sixth, only Moreno was able to record a hit off the lefty. Its a good sign of your season when you go six innings, allow two runs, and your ERA actually goes up, but he’s remained the unsung hero of the rotation and perhaps the entire team.
Manny Bañuelos came in to work on a three-out save, and it didn’t really go well for him. Without much command at all, he allowed a run in 1.1 innings, walked two against a single strikeout, and overall struggled to put together competitive pitches:
Bañuelos has been a real nice story, and hasn’t really done anything wrong in his seven innings prior to tonight, but you wonder how long he is for the roster. The club clearly doesn’t trust using him in just about any other scenario, and when you’re given sparse innings, you’ve really got to make them count. He just hasn’t.
Gallo capped us off with one of, if not, the cleanest swings he’s taken as a Yankee:
I said in the comments that home runs, by and large, are a product of good process. You just don’t hit baseballs 400 feet by accident. You pick a pitch you can drive, and your swing from your feet all the way up have to be in line. Hopefully that process is repeatable and Gallo keeps making this lineup even more dangerous.
With Bañuelos gone from the game, Miguel Castro and Lucas Luetge covered the last five outs, and they did so without any drama. The final score was 12-3, New York.
After tonight, the worst-case scenario is that the Yankees leave Toronto up nine games in the AL East race. They’ll be in tough tomorrow against Alek Manoah, he of the 1.67 ERA and he who seems to have a deep, personal vendetta with the Yankees based on his four starts against them so far in his young career. Manoah is really good, but this is the best team in baseball and Jameson Taillon is no slouch himself, so my expectations are high. First pitch for that one comes at 3:07pm Eastern.