Tonight's game had a little bit of everything: some nice defensive plays, timely hitting, quality relief pitching, and few strategical moves that paid dividends. In the end, it added up to the Yankees fourteenth walk-off victory of the season, this time at the hands of Francisco Cervelli.
The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Derek Jeter drew a leadoff walk and came around to score a double that Mark Teixeira crushed to deep center field. Hideki Matsui then drove Teixeira in.
After a scoreless second inning, Toronto tied the game in the third. Jose Bautista destroyed a leadoff homer to center, falling just short of the facing of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, short hopping the concrete wall on the left center field side of Monument Park. After Gaudin took a Marco Scutaro liner off his arm and then made a circus behind-the-back play on an Aaron Hill comebacker, Toronto tied the score on an RBI groundout from Adam Lind.
In the sixth, Gaudin was gave up the go-ahead run on another groundout and exited shortly thereafter. Despite leaving the game trailing, it was another solid if unspectacular start from Gaudin, a representative effort from a back of the rotation starter.
Damaso Marte relieved Gaudin, notching a big strikeout of Travis Snider to end a first and third two out threat. Marte gave way to Brian Bruney to start the seventh. Bruney allowed hits to both batters he faced and was promptly yanked, earning himself a mid-inning hook for a mind-numbing eighth consecutive outing. Phil Coke cleaned up Bruney's mess, but allowed one of the inherited runners to score giving Toronto a 4-2 lead.
The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the inning. Robinson Cano hit a one out double, followed by Melky Cabrera reaching on an error. Johnny Damon pinch hit for Jose Molina and whiffed; Derek Jeter walked to load the bases, and then Jerry Hairston ended the inning by grounding into a fielder's choice. Joe Girardi then made an astute double switch, inserting Francisco Cervelli in Hairston's spot as the new catcher, and Brett Gardner in Damon's spot.
After Phil Hughes held the fort in the eighth, the Yankees finally broke through in the bottom of the inning. With Alex Rodriguez on first, Hideki Matsui launched a home run to right to tie the game at four. It was Matsui's 25th long ball of the year, tying the second best season total of his Major League career. It also tied Yankee club record for most home runs by a designated hitter, matching Don Baylor's mark from 1984. It was also Matsui's 12th HR of the year against left handed pitching.
Mariano Rivera took care of business in the ninth, leaving the Yankees positioned for the walk-off. Thanks to Girardi's earlier double switch, Brett Gardner led off. He singled, then promptly stole second base despite everyone in the park knowing he was going to attempt to steal the bag. Gardner moved to third on Jeter's groundout, setting the stage for Francisco Cervelli's single to left to end the game. With that, the Yanks split the two game set with the Jays and set themselves up for a far more enjoyable Thursday off day.
FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 3/11/14
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