Blue Jays sweep twin bill, go up 4.5 on Yanks
NEW YORK -- Cliff Pennington homered and Ben Revere enjoyed a four-hit night as the Blue Jays took a commanding 4 1/2-game lead in the American League East with a 10-7 victory over the Yankees in Game 2 of a doubleheader that was delayed 33 minutes because of rain on Saturday night.
New York, which received a pair of three-run homers from Brett Gardner in the losing cause, entered the four-game series trailing by just 1 1/2 games. Toronto took the first game of the doubleheader, 9-5, in 11 innings and has won seven consecutive games at Yankee Stadium for the first time in franchise history.
"Huge day, I'm proud of these guys," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was a long day, it wasn't an easy day to play. The first one to extras and they gutted it out. We basically used everybody and we came out on top two games. That's huge."
Right-hander Marcus Stroman made his season debut for the Blue Jays and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before getting into some trouble. He allowed a pair of infield singles and Gardner's first three-run homer but eventually escaped and picked up win No. 1 on the year. Stroman was charged with the three runs on four hits, two walks and a two strikeouts. He threw 48 of his 78 pitches for strikes.
Toronto did most of its damage in the second inning off right-hander Ivan Nova. Pennington delivered the big blow with a two-run shot to right, but the Blue Jays sent 11 batters to the plate in the frame and recorded six hits en route to six runs. Nova was charged with all six runs on seven hits and a walk over 1 2/3 innings.
"You know that there's rain in the area," Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "You know that your bullpen was worked a lot the day before and in the earlier game. You're just hoping that he gets a double-play ball there. Finally, when Russell [Martin] got the base hit we said, enough's enough. We got a guy up and got him in."
There was a 33-minute delay in the middle of the sixth inning, and once play resumed Toronto scored four in the seventh inning on RBI singles by Revere, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. It was the 24th time this season the Blue Jays have reached double digits in scoring. Gardner made it interesting in the eighth with his second three-run shot of the game.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Everybody gets a turn: Pennington isn't known for his power, but he picked a good time to come through with his second homer of the year. Toronto's utility infielder sent a 2-2 fastball from Nova over the wall in right field, projected by Statcast™ to land 404 feet away and left his bat at 100 mph. It was Pennington's first homer since he was acquired from Arizona in August, and before the inning was over Bautista and Russell Martin added RBI doubles as Toronto scored more than five runs in a frame for the 26th time this year.
"Just have to go out there and help the team win," said Pennington, who replaced Troy Tulowitzki in the second inning of Game 1 after Toronto's starting shortstop exited with a cracked left shoulder blade. "The only thing that matters is W's and L's, and losing Tulo for however long we lost him is a big blow, but this game isn't going to stop. We have to keep going and we're trying as a team to pick up everybody else and do the best we can because losing him is tough."
Nova's struggles: Since rejoining the Yankees after Tommy John surgery sidelined him in 2014, Ivan Nova has made 14 starts this season, going 6-8. He's had moments where he looked sharp -- particularly after seven innings and a win in Toronto on Aug. 14 -- and times when he's struggled. But before Saturday, Nova had never had an outing this season shorter than four innings. That came to a screeching halt in Game 2, when he was yanked after 1 2/3 innings, seven hits and six earned runs. The six earned runs represented his second-highest output for the season. On Aug. 25, he gave up seven against the Astros.
"They hit me hard," Nova said. "That first inning was really good. I think I have good command in the first inning, but in the second inning, I can't get the people out. Tough lineup, and I didn't make pitches. I don't make good pitches, I get hit.
"We got a lot of runs today, like seven, and that's enough to win a ballgame. Because of me, we [didn't] win."
Goodbye no-no: Stroman issued two walks early, but he carried a no-hitter into the fifth until it was broken up on an infield hit by John Ryan Murphy. Brendan Ryan followed two batters later with an infield hit of his own before Gardner cut the Blue Jays' lead in half with a three-run shot. It was an impressive debut for Stroman, who had been out for the entire year after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn ACL in March. He had command of all six of his pitches and didn't have to face a lot of pressure thanks to the early six-run lead.
"It's only going to get better from here," Stroman said. "Really pleased. One bad pitch, I left a pitch up to Gardner, but for the most part kept the ball on the ground pretty well. Most importantly did everything in my power to put this team in a position to win. This offense is incredible."
Brett does his part: After ripping a home run over right field in the first game of the doubleheader, Gardner followed suit in the second with two three-run shots over right field in Game 2. On Saturday, the left fielder recorded his 14th, 15th and 16th homers of the season and drove in a combined seven runs. His six RBIs in the second game were a career high and matched a season high by any Yankee this season. Saturday's second game was Gardner's second career multi-homer game and first since July 2014.
But Gardner quickly shut down the idea of being able to enjoy his offensive productivity on a day that the Yanks were swept.
"It's a tough day," he said. "We need to get some rest tonight, get packed up and get better tomorrow."
"It's got to be the longest day of baseball for any of us. Between playing the doubleheader, both of them being nine innings, rain delay, extra innings, just a whirlwind of different things going on. We did our best to stay focused and power through it and fortunately we came out of here with two W's." -- Blue Jays reliever Mark Lowe, who recorded three outs in Game 1 and recorded the save with a clean ninth in Game 2
"The bottom line is, we need to worry about ourselves. We need to right this. We need to come out and pitch a good game and win a game tomorrow." -- Girardi on whether the Wild Card is looking more realistic for the Yankees now
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 24 games this year for Toronto with at least 10 runs are the most for any team in one season since the Red Sox did it 25 times in 2011.
ENCARNACION LEAVES WITH FINGER INJURY
Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion didn't return after the 33-minute rain delay because he aggravated a left middle finger injury during an at-bat in the sixth inning. Encarnacion missed two games at the end of July and four more in August because of the lingering ailment but appeared to be over it the last several weeks.
That changed when Encarnacion struck out on an awkward swing in the sixth inning in the final at-bat before the delay. It's not immediately clear how severe the injury is and for now he is considered day to day.
"He just aggravated that finger again so we'll see," Gibbons said. "Hopefully it's not long." .
Blue Jays: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out a four-game series against the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. Dickey has allowed two runs over his last 15 innings and has a 2.68 ERA since the All-Star break. The game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka will head to the hill trying to avoid the sweep Sunday in the series finale. Tanaka is pitching on four days' rest and is coming off of an eight-inning outing against the Orioles. In his career against the Blue Jays, Tanaka is 4-2 in six starts with a 2.65 ERA.
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