Stanton & Company Lead New York To Their Seventh Straight Win
Game 157. 6 games left in a dead-heat playoff race between 5 different American League teams. Coming into this ever-important matchup, both the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays knew they needed a win to stay competitive in the wild-card race. The Yankees sent Jameson Taillon to the bump, his first start in weeks due to an ankle injury, and Toronto countered with prized starter Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Yankees just completed a sweep of their rival, the Boston Red Sox, where they were playing with more swagger than ever, and were ready to take on a young, upstart Blue Jays team that had all of Canada’s support and energy behind them in Rogers Centre. The stage was set for a high-stakes matchup, and a series to follow.
Toronto jumped out to a quick lead, taking a 1–0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning on a Bo Bichette single that came off the bat with juice. Rogers Centre roared in cheer, but their lead was wiped away an instant. Aaron Judge, New York’s face of the team, mashed a home run to right field in the top of the third, quieting the crowd to his delight, crowing it off with his elbow bump celebration with his teammate on deck, Giancarlo Stanton (remember the name). It took less than three innings for a lead to be established, and wiped away; this game had plenty more to come. In the bottom of the third, starter Jameson Taillon reinjured his ankle and was forced to leave the game, leaving New York flustered for how they would cover his innings. They went with Michael King, who let up one run to the Blue Jays over 2.2 innings, a run-scoring Corey Dickerson double in the bottom of the 4th that brought Rogers Centre to a deafening roar in joy. But in the next half-inning, the Bronx Bombers came right back, scoring a run on an Anthony Rizzo double, and then an Aaron Judge sacrifice fly to plate another, leaving the score at 3–2.
After King’s stellar performance, the Yankees brought in Clay Holmes to pitch the bottom of the 6th. He found himself in a tight spot, with a runner on second with one out. Bichette, the runner, was dancing, looking to get aggressive, and he attempted to steal. Gary Sanchez sent a rocket over to third, and DJ Lemahieu applied a swift tag to get the elusive Bichette. Toronto challenged what looked like a bang-bang play, the replay played on the jumbo board and Jays fans started cheering, as he looked safe. The challenge failed and Bichette was out, a major turning point in what was such a contested game. And the Yankees quickly capitalized in the top of the 7th. Runners on first and second, 2–2 count, two-out, Giancarlo Stanton at the plate. The chants from the crowd rose in volume as the at-bat went on, and the ever-intense battle between Stanton and Trevor Richards set the scene for a game-defining moment. Richards buried a change-up, which Stanton (told you, remember the name) dug out of the bottom of the zone with pure strength and sent it flying to left, followed by Yankees’ play by play announcer Michael Kay’s signature call, “IT IS GONE!!”. The crowd sat there stunned, Blue Jays’ players put their heads down, and the Yankees celebrated from Rougned Odor dancing in the dugout to Stanton emphatically stepping on home. Stanton’s homer captured baseball at its best: a game-changing moment deflating the hopes of one team while lifting the other to a new high, heard through the yells of the Yankees and the groans of the Blue Jays and their fans.
The Yankees took a 6–2 lead and never looked back, tacking on one more in the top of the ninth thanks to Gio Urshela’s solo homer that put the icing on the cake. Stanton and Judge had homered in the same game for the 4th time in the last two weeks, the Yankees’ pitching staff was fantastic, and the Blue Jays left disappointed, ready to do it all again in game two.