Dramatic Beltran blast helps Yanks reclaim first
TORONTO -- Pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran came through with a crucial homer as the Yankees staged a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory to snap the Blue Jays' 11-game winning streak in the series opener at Rogers Centre on Friday. With the win, the Yankees reclaimed first place in the American League East from the Blue Jays. New York leads the division by a half-game.
Down 3-0, the Yankees rallied to drive Blue Jays starter David Price from the game with a four-run eighth inning, culminating in Beltran's three-run shot off reliever Aaron Sanchez, who was saddled with the loss. Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann singled with one out before Chase Headley's ground-rule double brought home one run. That set the table for Beltran's heroics.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to leave the ballpark," Beltran said. "It's a good feeling, being able to come off the bench, come through and help the team win a ballgame."
Ivan Nova was strong in a winning effort for the Yanks. Outside of a three-run third, the right-hander turned in a quality start with a seven-inning performance. He struck out three and walked one before turning the ball over to Dellin Betances, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Andrew Miller came on in the ninth and surrendered a one-out walk to Chris Colabello before Kevin Pillar singled to give the Blue Jays some life. Miller uncorked a wild pitch with Ben Revere at the plate, allowing both runners to advance into scoring position. The lefty settled in to fan Revere before striking out Troy Tulowitzki in a tense 12-pitch at-bat to end the game.
"It was a battle. Two of the best players in baseball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the final at-bat. "That's what you want to see, pay to see. And Miller, he's one of the best out there and he's got some nasty pitches."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Beltran delivers off the bench: Headley's ground-rule double ended Price's night in favor of the right-handed Sanchez, and the Yanks countered by sending Beltran up to pinch-hit for Chris Young. With a 1-2 count, the 38-year-old delivered his biggest blow of the season. Beltran's three-run shot to right-center field, his 11th homer of the year, stunned the Rogers Centre crowd and gave the Yankees their first lead of the night. More >
"It's not easy, but he was prepared, and Carlos is professional," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He knows what he needs to do. He went up aggressive and swung the bat. That's a big home run."
Epic battle: Tulowitzki and Miller engaged in an at-bat for the ages to finish things off. With two outs and the go-ahead run on second base, the battle lasted 12 pitches, with Tulowitzki fouling off seven before he finally missed on a slider from the Yankees' closer, who notched his 26th save of the season. More >
"I think the whole inning was such a grind," Miller said. "I feel like I was making pitches and I feel like I had good stuff, but it was just a tightly fought game. I'm glad we came out on top. The at-bat to Tulowitzki, that's all I've got. I was running out of gas there. That's everything I've got for an inning. I'm just glad we won the battle."
Price lifted in the eighth: Price worked out of jams all night, but he couldn't escape the eighth as he gave up a pair of singles and a ground-rule double, allowing the Yankees to creep back into the game. With two on and the go-ahead run coming to the plate, Price got the hook in favor of Sanchez. The lefty pitched 7 1/3 innings while giving up 11 hits and three earned runs.
"I was still out there, throwing the ball. And I felt good, with the exception of the double to Headley," Price said. "I felt like that inning I made really good pitches. But that's baseball, that's part of it, and if you don't like it, pitch better."
Nova clipped, but stays in: Nova worried the Yanks in the third inning when he reached with his bare hand for a Tulowitzki chopper up the middle. The ball ricocheted off Nova's ring finger to shortstop Didi Gregorius, who tagged second base for the forceout, with a run scoring on the play. Nova threw four warmup pitches before convincing Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue to leave him in the game.
"I thought I broke my finger. It was hurting bad," Nova said. "But I saw Joe and Stevie coming out, and I thought, 'We've got to keep pitching. We've got to keep pitching.' You've got to give your team a little bit of room, because we have been using the bullpen a lot. I was focused on going deep in the game."
"The fourth pitch, to me, seemed like it was right over the plate. Moral of the story is I didn't get my job done and it cost us a win." -- Sanchez, on the Beltran homer
"Today was fun, no doubt about it. It was loud. It's been a long time since I heard or felt a crowd like today. It's a playoff atmosphere, no doubt. They're fighting and playing good baseball right now, winning  in a row. We're kind of scuffling a little bit, so we knew that coming here was going to be a tough series." -- Beltran
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Prior to the eighth inning, the Blue Jays had shut out the Yankees for 33 consecutive innings, the longest stretch by any team against the Bronx Bombers.
The Blue Jays lost a challenge after Brendan Ryan was ruled safe as he dove head-first into first base for a leadoff single in the third. After review, it was ruled that the call stands.
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-5, 3.79 ERA) returns to Rogers Centre, where he made his first Major League start last April, and he hopes to feed off the postseason vibes of this series on Saturday. Tanaka faced the Blue Jays in his last outing on Sunday in New York, taking a tough-luck loss after serving up solo homers to Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. He's 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA in five career starts vs. Toronto. The game is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET.
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (10-6, 3.21 ERA) takes the mound for the Blue Jays. The soft-tossing right-hander is facing the Yankees for the second time in as many starts. He held them scoreless over 6 1/3 innings on Sunday, and he has a 4.50 ERA in three career games against New York.
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