Gary Sanchez came off the bench to hit a 2-run homer in the 7th inning, putting the Yanks ahead 3-2, then saved the game in the 9th by throwing a runner out at 3rd, to lead NY to the 3-2 victory over Toronto in Buffalo.
A passed ball by Sanchez in the 9th that should have scored the tying run was missed by the ump and called a foul ball — adding to The Gary Sanchez show. All that also helped Aroldis Chapman‘s Houdini Act — as he got out of a 2nd & 3rd nobody out situation in the 9th, where it seemed certain Toronto would tie the score if not win the game.
The 3-2 victory rewarded Gerrit Cole with the win after he had pitched 8 innings of masterful ball. NY pulled within 7 of Tampa, who lost.
1. Cole Masterpiece
It was a cold night in Buffalo, with temps in the 50’s and windy. The wind died down as the game progressed. Cole could be seen early in the game rubbing the ball to get his fingers warm and get a grip on it, he said afterwards. Cole’s spin rate was down but he figured out other ways to shut down the Toronto lineup.
During the game, Jacob deGrom left the Mets game after 3 innings with shoulder tightness, and the aura over baseball was how would elite pitchers pitch with no sticky substances allowed to help them grip the ball, and how many injuries would we be witnessing (like the one to Tyler Glasnow the other night).
Cole pitched masterful ball without sticky stuff for the 2nd start in a row. The only damage: a homer to Marcus Semien in the 1st to tie the game at 1-1, and a homer to Cavan Biggio in the 5th to put Toronto ahead 2-1.
Cole finished with 8 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 4 K’s, 2 walks. He goes to 8-3 2.31.
When Sanchez hit the homer in the 7th to put the Yanks back on top (below), Cole said afterwards he got “a serious surge of adrenaline and better locking in, like immediately; to simply have the lead. It was like, he hit it into the night, majestic shot, and I’m like I got to get focused; we need a shut-down inning here.”
Cole threw a 101.5 mph fastball in the 8th inning, which according to Katie Sharp, “was the fastest pitch thrown by a starter in the 8th inning or later since Justin Verlander on May 24, 2012 (101.6 and 102.2)”
2. Sanchez Pinch-Hit BOMB
Kyle Higashioka started the game, as Cole’s personal catcher, leading much of Yankee Twitter to sharply question manager Aaron Boone, because Gary Sanchez was red hot. Sanchez had just hit a key homer and double the previous game to help the Yanks beat Toronto, and now he wasn’t in the lineup.
And thru 6 innings, the Yanks looked like they could really use Sanchez. They had one hit — by Aaron Judge. That hit helped produce a run in the top of the 1st — DJ LeMahieu got on due to an error, Judge singled, and Gleyber Torres walked to load the bases with nobody out. Giancarlo Stanton hit a sac fly for a run but that was all the Yanks got against Toronto starter Ross Stripling.
Stripling then shut out the Yankees for the next 5 breezy innings, and going into the 7th, Toronto was up 2-1 and Stripling had allowed only the one hit. Stripling entered the game with a 2-3, 4.91 record, yet was retiring the Yankee lineup 1-2-3 inning after inning — the game went quickly and you turned around and it was the 7th inning.
But it all changed in the 7th: Miguel Andujar singled, Rougned Odor struck out, and Gary Sanchez was put in as a pinch hitter for Higgy (who was 0-2 with a strikeout). Sanchez got a 92-MPH fastball over the plate and BLASTED it HIGH into the night sky to left for a homerun and 3-2 Yankee lead.
kRAKEn 🐙 pic.twitter.com/SOxUHoXcSp
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 17, 2021
3. Chapman Houdini Act
The Yanks couldn’t get an insurance run so that left it up to Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the 9th, NY up 3-2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off with a single, and left fielder Teoscar Hernandez slapped a double to right and it was 2nd and 3rd nobody out. There went Cole’s win, you thought. Unless Chappy could get a strikeout and a popup or something like that.
He did. Chapman struck out centerfielder Randal Grichuk, then got pinch hitter Santiago Espinal to hit a grounder back to him on the pitchers mound — Chapman threw a weak lob to Sanchez at the plate, and Guerrero raced back to 3rd — but Gary Sanchez threw a STRIKE to 3rd to nab him. The play was reviewed and Gary had indeed nailed him.
The Kraken is clutch on defense, too 🦑 pic.twitter.com/h5wk4el27W
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 17, 2021
Chapman was then 1 out away from the save. That batter was DH Lourdes Gurriel Jr. On Chapman’s first pitch to Gurriel he threw a strike that Gurriel swung and missed at, and Gary Sanchez also missed catching — the ball ticked off his glove, hit the umpire and bounded away. It looked like a foul ball but on replay Gurriel’s bat never touched it. Teoscar Hernandez came in from 2nd to touch home plate for the tying run — but the umps could not review the play, ruled it a foul, and Hernandez went back to 2nd.
Umpires called this a foul ball. 🤔 (The play is non-reviewable.)
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) June 17, 2021
With Yankee Twitter hearts pounding, the count went 2-2 on Gurriel, who hit a line drive to center that Brett Gardner sprinted in to make the catch on for the old ballgame.
Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win! pic.twitter.com/7hcyCMmpyy
— John Sterling Calls (@JSterlingCalls) June 17, 2021