The New York Yankees are starting to gain some momentum in the dog days of summer and are catching ground in the American League playoff race, as they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 earlier in the day on Tuesday as part of a day-night doubleheader.
In the second game of the twin-bill, the Yankees were looking to win their third straight game, and nine out of their last 11, as the struggling Phil Hughes was on the mound for the Yankees opposing veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle.
Neither pitcher disappointed and engaged in an old-fashioned pitchers duel on Tuesday night. The Blue Jays struck first blood on Hughes in the top of the first inning, as Rajai Davis scored on a wild pitch, which put Toronto up 1-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, the red-hot Robinson Cano, fresh off his four-hit performance from the previous game, hit an RBI double against Buehrle to make it 1-1.
In the top of the fifth inning, Davis hit a sacrifice fly to center, which gave Toronto the lead back at 2-1. After that run scored for the Blue Jays, that was the last run Hughes gave up for the Yankees.
The struggling starter was able to go six innings, allowed two runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out six and did not allow a single home run in the game, which is why the Yankees were able to stay right with the Blue Jays.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Yankees got to Buehrle as Jayson Nix hit a game-tying solo home run to make the game 2-2. That was the last batter Buehrle faced, as he went 6.2 innings, allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out five and was cruising along to getting a win until Nix deposited the ball into the seats.
After Preston Claiborne pitched two scoreless innings in his call back up to the majors and Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth inning, the Yankees were looking for a walk-off win in the bottom of the inning.
Darren Oliver came in to pitch and started the inning by walking Mark Reynolds, who got pinch ran for by Ichiro Suzuki. Eduardo Nunez's sacrifice bunt got Ichiro over to second and then the speedy Japanese start stole third against Josh Thole to set up a runner on third and one out for Nix, who singled to left which scored Ichiro to win the game for the Yankees, as they defeated Toronto 3-2 to complete the sweep of the day-night double header and win their third straight game.
Rivera picked up the win and improved to 4-2 on the year, while Oliver took the loss and dropped him to 3-4. While getting the win in a walk-off fashion is always fun to watch, the fact that Hughes finally gave the Yankees a quality start on the mound was extremely encouraging.
On Wednesday, the Yankees, now 66-59, will send Adam Warren (1-2, 3.57 ERA) up for a rare spot start, as he will face off against Blue Jays ace and last years National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (9-11, 4.49 ERA.)
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