Yankees 7, Blue Jays 6
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez hit two-run homers and the New York Yankees survived a late Toronto rally by using four relievers in the ninth inning of a 7-6 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night.
New York reduced its magic number to clinching the AL East for a ninth straight season to three. The Yankees could wrap up the division title during the seven-game road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay.
Rivera, one of baseball’s best closers of all-time, has been sidelined since Aug. 31 by a muscle strain near his right elbow.
How much he is missed was apparent in that ninth inning when Toronto scored three runs to get within one and had a runner on base when the last out was finally recorded.
“There’s only one Mo. You get spoiled with him pitching the end of games because when he comes in 99 percent of the time it’s over with,” Jeter said.
Rivera is scheduled for another bullpen session Tuesday and could be pitching in games by Friday.
“He’s getting a little antsy right now. He’s been in a lot more playful mood lately than he was for 10 days or so,” manager Joe Torre said.
Jeter hit a two-run homer, his 14th, off A.J. Burnett (8-8) in the seventh inning to give New York a 4-3 lead.
The Yankees added three runs in the ninth but Toronto matched that in the bottom half, forcing New York to use four pitchers in the final inning. Jose Veras got the last out for the first save of his career.
Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the sixth, his 34th this season and the 463rd of his career—moving him into sole possession of 29th place on the all-time list, two behind former Yankee Dave Winfield. The home run brought the Yankees within 3-2.
Torre said Rodriguez’s homer woke them up after they played four games in two days against Boston, losing three.
“It’s as tired I’ve seen our group in maybe three years,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just good to have one game.”
“It was a struggle throughout, but I got through it,” Rasner said.
Burnett allowed four runs and seven hits over seven innings as the Blue Jays had a four-game winning streak snapped.
“Two mistakes all night, it got away,” Burnett said. “They did what they are supposed to do with it.”
Jeter had a 25-game hitting streak ended Sunday. … New York CF Johnny Damon was ejected by home plate umpire Bill Miller for arguing a called strike on teammate Hideki Matsui. In the fifth inning, Miller ruled that Matsui went around on a checked swing for strike three. Damon argued with Miller from the on-deck circle and was thrown out of the game. It was the first time Damon was ejected this season. Aaron Guiel replaced Damon. … Rodriguez accidentally smacked first base umpire Eric Cooper in the mouth while running down the line on an infield single in the eighth.