Yankees 6, Blue Jays 0
NEW YORK (AP)—Orlando Hernandez showed Toronto a little of this and a little of that. By the time he was done, the Blue Jays were still trying to figure him out.
El Duque pitched eight sharp innings for his best outing yet in a remarkable comeback, and the New York Yankees cruised to a 6-0 victory Saturday.
Hernandez, who had rotator cuff surgery last year and was released by Montreal in December, allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two, pitching the Yankees (70-39) to their fourth victory in a row.
After re-signing with New York in March and rehabilitating his shoulder in the minors, he has been a boon to an injury-depleted staff. The Yankees have won all six games he started since he was called up July 11.
“I’m mixing my pitches better,” Hernandez said through a translator. “I have a better changeup. My slider to left-handed hitters is a lot better. I have good control.”
Scott Proctor pitched the ninth to complete the six-hitter, the Yankees’ third shutout this season.
Most notable for Hernandez was a quick pitch to Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado.
“The quick pitch didn’t trick Delgado,” Yankees catcher John Flaherty said. “It tricked me. I hadn’t seen that from him before. He changes speeds so well. He’s a guy who knows how to pitch. If his stuff is good or bad, he finds a way to get guys out.”
In three starts against Toronto, Hernandez has not allowed a run in 17 innings. Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca has seen enough of the right-hander.
“Hernandez was filthy,” Tosca said. “He throws strikes on the black. He gets his slider in and under left-handed batters’ hands. I didn’t see him at his best, but he’s certainly been pretty good against us. He looks like he’s on a mission. His slider was good. His changeup was good. He did whatever he wanted.
“He’s a guy who pitches strictly on feel. He does what he wants to each hitter. You seldom see the same pitch twice. That’s his style of pitching.”
Matched up for the third time with Toronto left-hander Ted Lilly, Hernandez (4-0) kept the Blue Jays off balance with an assortment of pitches and speeds. He allowed just two runners to reach second base, becoming the third consecutive Yankees starter to last eight innings.
The Yankees nicked Lilly (8-8) for a run in the first but could have had more.
Miguel Cairo opened with a single and Derek Jeter was hit by a pitch. Gary Sheffield singled to left, scoring Cairo, and the runners reached second and third on the throw to the plate. But Lilly then retired Alex Rodriguez, Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui, leaving the runners stranded in scoring position.
Hernandez protected the 1-0 lead into the fifth, when the Yankees added two more runs on a milestone hit by Williams.
Jeter and Sheffield walked with two outs, and Rodriguez beat out a swinging bunt up the third base line to load the bases. Williams then singled to left, driving in two runs and giving him 1,100 RBIs, passing batting coach Don Mattingly for eighth place on the club’s career list.
“It’s a testament to being here a long time, playing year-in and year-out and being part of this great run we’ve had through the years,” Williams said.
In the sixth, Tony Clark doubled and scored on Cairo’s third hit of the game, a triple into the right-field corner. The Yankees added two runs in the seventh on Matsui’s RBI infield single and wild pitch.
Toronto rookie Gabe Gross was credited with his first major league hit when Jeter lost his pop fly in the sun and it fell safely in the second inning. … Cairo doubled leading off the third but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. … The Blue Jays were blanked for the ninth time.