NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are now closer to first place in the AL East than they have been all month and are one game away from a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with Wednesday night's 7-3 victory.
Once again, Chase Whitley pitched well, although not for very long -- he needed 95 pitches to get through five innings -- but won his third straight game after having posted four straight no decisions to start his career as a big league starter. The Yankees also got a big night out of Brian McCann and some terrific relief pitching from Adam Warren and Dellin Betances. If they can complete the sweep Thursday night, they will be just 1½ games out of first place.
That certainly seemed an unlikely result when they were losing 2 of 3 to the A's in Oakland over the weekend, but you know what they say: There's no place like home.
McAnswer: The Yankees answered the Jays' two-run fourth inning, in which Toronto took a 2-1 lead, with a two-run fourth of their own on a two-run home run by McCann, his eighth of the season but first since May 23, a stretch of 74 at-bats. McCann's shot was a liner into the lower right-field seats with Carlos Beltran (single) aboard, giving the Yankees back the lead 3-2. Later, McCann had a three-run triple, giving him five RBIs on the night, tying his career high (which he's done six times).
Costly freebie: Whitley prides himself on not giving out free baserunners -- coming into the game, he hadn't walked a batter since May 21 -- but he did put Brett Lawrie on by hitting him with a pitch in the fourth inning and paid for it two batters later when Colby Rasmus singled him home with the Jays' second run of the game, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead. The previous hitter, Dinoer Navarro, had singled in Edwin Encarnacion for Toronto's first run.
First blood: The Yankees got on the board in the first inning -- with the help of Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie, who booted Derek Jeter's grounder -- courtesy of Alfonso Soriano's RBI single to right, scoring Brett Gardner from third. But the run was unearned because of Lawrie's error, which prolonged an inning that might have ended on Mark Teixeira's line out to left fielder Melky Cabrera. Incidentally, Teixeira's reaction was exaggerated to the point of comical; he first threw his hands up in disbelief, then stared out at Cabrera for a few seconds before returning to the dugout and firing his helmet in disgust. But it was really a routine out; although he hit the ball hard, it was right at Cabrera.
Scratch that Ich?: A notable omission to the Yankees lineup tonight was Ichiro Suzuki despite his .421 career average versus Mark Buehrle in 57 career at-bats, a larger sample size than any other Yankee had against him. But it worked out in Girardi's favor since Ichiro probably would have replaced Soriano, who knocked in the first Yankees run, in the lineup. And, of course, Ichiro drew the bases-loaded walk that drove in the Yankees fourth run of the night (off reliever Brett Cecil in the seventh inning) and scored the seventh run of the game on McCann's bases-clearing triple two batters later.
Comin' Adam: Pitching in relief of Whitley, Adam Warren threw a dominant sixth inning, striking out all three hitters he faced. He also pitched a clean seventh, getting all three hitters to ground to second base.
Streak over: Whitley's walkless streak, which had stretched to 32 1/3 innings and 133 batters, came to an end with one out in the fifth when he walked Cabrera. But this freebie was not costly; the next two hitters grounded out.
Lost decade: Buehrle has not beaten the Yankees since April 10, 2004, and is now 1-11 lifetime against them and 0-6 at Yankee Stadium.