Yankees hit four homers in the eighth, including back-to-back-to-back as they cruise to 7-0 victory

Coming off a frustrating 7-5 loss at the hands of Francisco Liriano, Josh Donaldson, Justin Smoak and the entire Toronto Blue Jays squad last night, the Yankees turned to rookie left-hander Jordan Montgomery this afternoon to right the ship and get the Yankees back on the winning track.  Montgomery struggled in his last time out in Baltimore, laboring through 4.1 innings of three run (one ER) ball, allowing eight hits, walking one, and ultimately taking the loss in a 3-2 Orioles win.  For the Blue Jays, Joe Biagini, who started the season in the bullpen, made his sixth start of the season.  Biagini most recently took the loss in a home start against Texas, but allowed just two earned runs over six innings of work. 

Photo credit: Getty Images / Tom Szczerbowski

Biagini came into this start with the third highest ground ball percentage in the American League, and true to form, he retired four of the first seven Yankees he faced via the ground ball, with the only man reaching base being Aaron Judge via a walk. In all, 13 of Biagini's 21 outs came on the ground. 

Montgomery retired the first four hitters he faced but quickly ran into some trouble in the second after walks to both Justin Smoak and Troy Tulowitzki. He would, however, avoid any damage after getting Devon Travis to fly out to deep left center field and Darwin Barney to pop up to shallow right.   

Photo credit: AP / Chris Young
The Yankees would take the game's first lead in the top of the third after Refsnyder reached on a Tulowitzki error, stole second, advanced to third on a deep Brett Gardner sac fly, and then scored on the game's first hit, a bloop double by Aaron Hicks. They would add to that lead immediately, on a scorching liner to deep center by Aaron Judge. The ball clipped off Kevin Pillar's glove and Hicks, running on contact with two outs, scored easily. 

Of course, if you expected the Jays to not respond, you just haven't watched enough games between these two teams over the last four seasons.  Toronto staged a rally of it's own in the bottom of the third with singles from backup catcher Luke Maile and Kevin Pillar.  However, Montgomery got Donaldson to pop out in foul territory to Austin Romine and then struck out both Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales to escape the jam. His pitch count stood at 54 through just three innings of work, but Monty had kept the Jays off the board thus far. 

After the early fireworks, this game settled into a pitchers duel through the middle innings, as Biagini and Montgomery would exchange zeroes in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The only real threat on other side came in the bottom of the fifth when the Jays again put men on first and second with two outs, but Montgomery was able to get Bautista to ground out to third to end the inning.  Heading to the seventh inning, neither pitcher had allowed an earned run, but the Yankees held a 2-0 lead. 

Biagini, carrying an efficient pitch count through his first six innings of work, went back out to start the seventh, but allowed two shallow flares to left by Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead with nobody out in the inning.  Biagini was bailed out the rest of the inning, however, as Chase Headley would strike out, Austin Romine reached on a fielder's choice that erased Gregorius off the bases, and Rob Refsnyder grounded out to third. 

Adam Warren took over for Montgomery in the bottom of the seventh and issued a walk but nothing further. 
Photo Credit: Chris Young | The Canadian Press

To start the eighth inning, the Blue Jays sent out embattled right hander Jason Grilli and he in no way helped his case by putting one on a tee for Brett Gardner, who promptly blasted his 12th home run of the year into the bullpen in right, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead. After Hicks lined out to left and Judge struck out looking, Matt Holliday, in his season long home run competition with Brett Gardner, immediately tied the score, blasting his 12th long ball of the year into the seats in left center field, and giving the Yankees a commanding 5-0 lead. And just when you thought they were done there, Starlin Castro added a home run to left, his ninth of the year, and Didi would follow with a solo shot of his own, his fourth, and the Yankees had blown it wide open at 7-0 after back-to-back-to-back jacks.

Despite the seven run lead, both Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances hadn't thrown in a few days, so Joe Girardi decided to give both work to finish out the game.  Both pitched scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to seal the Yankees' 7-0 victory. 

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton / USA TODAY Sports

Winning Pitcher: Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67), 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 R
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini (1-4, 3.31) 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 3 R (1 ER)
Aaron Hicks: 1-4, 2B, RBI, R 
Aaron Judge: 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB 
Brett Gardner: 1-5, HR (12), RBI, R 
Didi Gregorius: 2-4, HR (4), 2B, 2 RBI, R 
Matt Holliday: 1-4, HR (12), RBI, R 
Starlin Castro: 2-4, HR (9), 2B, RBI, 2 R 
Jason Grilli: 0.2 IP, 4 HR, 4 ER  

Tomorrow, the Yankees will look to take the series in Sunday's finale.  For the Blue Jays, they'll send out their ace Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.28), while the Yankees will look to Luis Severino (4-2, 2.93) who has been the team's best starter through the first two months of the season.  First pitch will be at 1:07 PM.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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