Last night’s game certainly had a wild (and appropriate for Yankees fans) ending, which was apropos given the way the first 3:39 of game time had gone. I can’t speak for all Yankees fans of course but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who spent a good chunk of the night alternating between a clenched jaw and uttering sternly worded phrases at the screen. Far too many notable instances arose during the game, so allow me to vent – sorry, discuss – the few that really burned my broccoli.
After Yusei Kikuchi frustratingly shut the Yankees down (again) through five innings, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off the sixth with the Blue Jays up three-nil and Miguel Castro on the mound. Castro threw a pitch inside and just above belt level, causing Gurriel to pull his arms in toward his body to protect himself, but he also let go of the bat, rendering it airborne and vertical with the ground as the pitch arrived. Castro’s pitch hit the knob of the bat, visibly moving the still airborne bat, which at this point was about three inches from Castro’s arm. Home plate umpire Marty Barrett – whose night would only get worse – ruled that the pitch hit Gurriel and awarded him first base.
Barrett missing the call was slightly irritating. Catcher Kyle Higashioka missing it was a bit more irritating, and nobody in the Yankees’ dugout or video replay room noticing it was even more irritating. Then the audio migraine known as Michael Kay brought the annoyance of the situation to the next level by barraging us with (at least three) replays showing us what we already saw – but with his running commentary of questioning if the ball hit Gurriel or not. Even the super slo-mo replay that clearly showed the ball hitting wood three inches away from Gurriel couldn’t awaken Mr. Unmanageable. While I was rubbing my temples from his repetitive blindness, I was also vowing to turn into the Joker if Gurriel came around to score. Fortunately, that wouldn’t be necessary.
It wasn’t necessary, as Yankees reliever Miguel Castro struck out the next three batters. Castro was electric last night, striking out four while allowing no hits and no walks over 1.1 IP. It was good to see as he’s been the only Yankee reliever this season that hasn’t been “wowing” us – hopefully, this is a good sign for him ongoing.
Matters took a turn for the better when after hits from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge, then a hard hit deep fly out from Anthony Rizzo, Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo summoned Yimi García from the pen to relieve Kikuchi. Giancarlo Stanton livened matters up with a three-run shot to tie the game, but that was just the preamble as García promptly hit Josh Donaldson in the upper arm with a pitch.
Of course, any thinking person’s first thought would be to wonder if that was retaliatory, but anything more than a quick reaction would lead one to think that with a tie game in the sixth inning, it would be very unlikely that García would want to put Donaldson on base. Except Barrett and his crew went the opposite way in their thought process – after an umpiring conference, the decision was reached to eject García, rather surprisingly.
The Jays (to me anyway) rightly exploded causing umpire Alfonso Marquez to eject someone in the dugout. We didn’t know who was ejected at the time, but anyone with eyes knew it wasn’t Montoyo, as Marquez had to look and partially move around the charging Montoyo to make the ejection. This didn’t stop Kay from telling us (obviously incorrectly) that Montoyo had been ejected – at least three times. To pour kerosene on the fire that was viewers’ brains, Kay repeatedly questioned why Montoyo was still in the dugout after he’d been ejected. (Answer: Because he wasn’t ejected.)
Not too long after that, Toronto’s Bo Bichette stepped in against the Yankees Jonathan Loáisiga with one out and one on in the seventh inning. A Loáisiga fastball traveled up and in on Bichette, missing contact by close to a foot. This didn’t stop Bichette from going full Manny Ramírez, flinging his head back and almost falling rather dramatically. This time, based on a general reaction from the Toronto dugout, Barrett ejected Montoyo and ended viewers’ misery by ending Kay’s confusion. (Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Kay’s on his best night, but last night really had us wondering if he a) watches the game, or b) has a monitor to look at when he isn’t watching.)
It turned out that Aaron Judge relieved a lot of stress by doing Aaron Judge things, as he vaporized a baseball for a walk-off three-run bomb.
It was a really good, gratifying, and important win against a key division rival. One of the things that flew under the radar is that Yankees’ batters drew seven walks on the night, so even while being frustrated by several things, they didn’t chase and continued to put up good at-bats. And of course, those good at-bats look even better when Stanton and Judge go yard with three-run home runs.
We have a quick turnaround today as the Yankees will begin their fifth game in about 72 hours at 12:30 this afternoon in the two-game series finale. Check back in a little while for the preview.
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