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Blue Jays strike in 7th to down Yankees

May 31, 2016

TORONTO -- Kevin Pillar and Darwin Barney delivered timely hits in the seventh inning off Dellin Betances to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.The Blue Jays chased Yankees starter CC Sabathia after a leadoff double by Edwin Encarnacion to

TORONTO -- Kevin Pillar and Darwin Barney delivered timely hits in the seventh inning off Dellin Betances to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays chased Yankees starter CC Sabathia after a leadoff double by Edwin Encarnacion to open the seventh. Betances entered and picked up a pair of quick outs, but he then issued a walk. Pillar followed with a run-scoring single and Barney singled home two more to give Toronto its fourth series victory in a row. Pillar and Barney also contributed stellar defensive plays.
"Really, both of them are known as elite defenders in the big leagues," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Sometimes it's just not good enough to make the routine play, you need to take away hits in certain situations. It kills rallies and kills potential rallies, big plays like that. We're a very good defensive team, so we've been known to do that."
The Blue Jays improved to 6-2 against the Yankees this season and clinched their third consecutive series victory against New York in 2016. Reliever Joe Biagini picked up his third win, and Roberto Osuna notched his 12th save in 13 opportunities.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ pitched six solid innings in the no-decision, allowing a run. The 33-year-old left-hander has allowed just five runs over his past three starts after getting rocked for a season-high eight against the Rays on May 16.
"I'm happy with the results," Happ said. "The bullpen did a good job, we were able to grind out that seventh inning with some big hits. It was a good game for us."
Superman does it all: In addition to his go-ahead single in the seventh, Pillar did a bit of everything in Tuesday's victory. The 27-year-old added his fifth stolen base of the year prior to Barney's two-run single, and he made a diving catch to rob Austin Romine of extra bases in the fourth. Pillar finished 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. More >
"A ball like that is a safer bet to go after," Pillar said about his headlong dive to rob Romine. "It's the one directly behind me that I have to be a bit more cautious in that type of game. Knowing [Jose] Bautista was back there, it was easy for me to go out and get it."

Sabathia, Betances stumble in seventh: Sabathia was excellent again through six innings, sitting at just 75 pitches, earning the right to begin the seventh. Encarnacion's leadoff double chased the big left-hander in favor of Betances, but the plan of going to Done BMC didn't materialize. Pillar singled home the go-ahead run as right fielder Rob Refsnyder's throw was offline, and Refsnyder's throw home on Barney's two-run single was cut off. More >
"Just frustrated. At 3-1, I need to make a better pitch, not give up a leadoff double and put Dellin in a bad spot," Sabathia said. "It's always surprising when these guys give up runs. Those guys are the best in the league, and nine times out of 10, they're going to be there to help us."

Smoak show:Justin Smoak tied the game at 1 with his home run in the fourth. Smoak took a hanging sinker from Sabathia on a 2-0 pitch and deposited it over the wall in left-center field. According to Statcast™, the 29-year-old's fifth homer of the season left the bat at 104 mph and traveled a projected 396 feet.

Bats remain cold: Getting Happ out of the game after six innings seemed like something of a moral victory for the run-starved Yanks, though they weren't able to capitalize and get anything going against the Toronto bullpen, either. Aaron Hicks' run-scoring fielder's choice grounder in the second inning knocked in Chase Headley, accounting for the Yankees' only run of the evening.
"We've been getting good starting pitching, so we have to find a way," Headley said. "It's definitely not our pitchers' fault. As an offense, we have to step up and score some runs."

"Considering we see Pillar do it every day, I'll give the nod to Barney. But he's pretty good, too, out there." -- Gibbons, when asked whose catch he liked better: Pillar's or shortstop Barney's on a foul popup

The Blue Jays have won five consecutive series against the Yankees for the first time since 1992-93.
The Yankees successfully challenged a call at first base in the fourth inning, as Encarnacion was initially ruled to have reached safely on a fielder's choice. A review showed that Starlin Castro's throw reached Mark Teixeira before Encarnacion touched first base, overturning the call on the field and completing a 6-4-3 double play.

Yankees: Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka entered Tuesday as one of four undefeated pitchers in the Majors with at least 10 starts this season, and he will try to retain membership in that select group on Wednesday as the Yankees complete their series at Rogers Centre at 7:07 p.m. ET. Tanaka held the Rays to two hits over seven scoreless innings in his last start, picking up the win.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez gets the ball in the Blue Jays' series finale against the Yankees on Wednesday. Sanchez has recorded eight quality starts in his 10 outings this season. The 23-year-old went 6 2/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) in a no-decision against Boston his last time out.
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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for based in Toronto.