The Yanks snapped the Blue Jays' eight-home-game winning streak yesterday afternoon with a nifty come-from-behind win on Simcoe Day in Toronto.
The Bombers got on the board first by cashing in a leadoff triple by Melky Cabrera in the third, but the Blue Jays answered with two in the bottom of the inning, both plated by a booming Frank Thomas double to left field. The Jays added a run in the fifth by bringing home a leadoff double by John McDonald to make it 3-1, but that merely set the stage for the Yankee comeback.
Bobby Abreu got things started in the top of the sixth by drawing a full-count walk. Alex Rodriguez, who Jays starter Jessie Litsch threw behind in the first inning, likely retaliation for the Rod Said "Ha!" incident, followed with a single to drive Litsch from the game. Hideki Matsui greeted lefty reliever Scott Downs with a single of his own that plated Abreu and, after Jorge Posada struck out, Robinson Cano put the Yankees out front with an double that scored Rodriguez and Matsui. Cano then moved to third on an Andy Phillips groundout and scored when his buddy Melky singled him home to make it 5-3 Yanks.
Andy Pettitte got into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth, getting the hook with two out and two on following a four-pitch walk to McDonald. Fresh up from triple-A, Jim Brower was fortunate enough to have the scalding line drive Reed Johnson hit off him go directly to Rodriguez at third to end the inning. Brower then gave up a single to Alex Rios to start the seventh at which point Joe Torre went straight to Luis Vizcaino who finished the inning without further damage, but pressed into getting five outs gave up a solo home run to Aaron Hill in the eighth to allow the Blue Jays within one. With two outs in the eight, Vizcaino walked Lyle Overbay on a full count, then hit pinch-hitter Matt Stairs in the leg with a slider that slipped, but Joe Torre, having used Mariano Rivera for four outs on Sunday, refused to even warm Rivera up in the eighth and, with Brian Bruney and Ron Villone feverishly warming up in the pen, Vizcaino got Johnson to ground out to end the threat. Rivera then slammed the door in the ninth, striking out the heart of the Toronto order (Rios, Vernon Wells, and Thomas) and regularly hitting 96 on the YES Network's radar gun.
The 5-4 win slips the Yankees past the idle Mariners in the Wild Card race. The Bombers now stand alone in second place, a mere half game behind the slumping Tigers (though they still trail both Detroit and Seattle by a game in the loss column).
As for Jim Brower, he was the man called up to replace Mike Myers who was designated for assignment after Sunday's game. Brower, however, is a generic 34-year-old journeyman righty reliever on his eleventh organization (he was released by the Pirates in late April after just six triple-A appearances). Sure, he was having a fantastic season in Scranton (1.65 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.96 GB/FB, 40 K and 11 BB in 43 2/3 IP), but he's not a solution. He's much closer to being an older, right-handed Wayne Franklin. That Edwar Ramirez is back to his old tricks with Scranton (9 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 15 K since being sent down in late July), and Chris Britton has just come off the DL (he's pitched twice since being activated and allowed a run in two innings) makes the decision to promote Brower even more regrettable. The Yankees simply don't have enough room for error to allow Brower to prove as useful as the last Brower to wear pinstripes.
Fortunately, the solution just may be on his way. Peter Abraham reports that Joba Chamberlain has been sent to Toronto and will likely be activated for today's game. Word is that Jeff Karstens will be demoted to make room for him. That supports what Joe Torre said prior to yesterdays game about no longer trying to force lefty-on-lefty matchups now that Myers is gone. Karstens continued presence would have suggested that Torre intended to rely on him as a long man while using Villone as a matchup lefty, but without Karstens, Villone remains the long man, and Chamberlain and Vizcaino become the final pieces of this team's long awaited Big Three without a lefty in the picture to muck things up. I like it. Now if they'd only swap out Brower and Farnsworth for Ramirez and Britton (and dump Miguel Cairo when activating Jason Giambi, who is due to arrive in Toronto today as well).