For the New York Yankees winning a wild card spot is not the optimal way to get into the postseason but it does extend their chances of reaching the World Series. The Bombers decreased their magic number to 2 for at least a place in the play-in game by pummeling the Toronto Blue Jays 11-4 at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees (91-66) also knocked down the magic number to win the American League East, their immediate goal, to 5 as the Baltimore Orioles kept their foot on the gas by beating the Boston Red Sox 9-1.
The Yanks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Nick Swisher‘s double in the first inning off Toronto rookie Chad Jenkins. They added a run in the second on a ground out by Derek Jeter. Unfortunately, the bases loaded were loaded with no one out and it looked like the Yankees would need plenty of runs for their starter Hiroki Kuroda. Three runs in the first two innings is more than what Kuroda is used to receiving for entire games, and it looked as though he was going to need as many runs as possible.
In the first four innings Kuroda allowed seven hits, four of them doubles, but the Blue Jays had fundamental breakdowns on the bases which allowed the right-hander to escape without allowing a run. Colby Rasmus ensured a hard hit would not be wasted by hitting a homer to lead off the fifth inning.
In the top of the sixth the Yankees broke the game open. With two on and two out, Russell Martin blasted his 20th home run of the season, extending his career high. Ichiro Suzuki added a RBI-single to give the Yanks a 7-1 lead giving Kuroda breathing room.
Kuroda’s night would end in the bottom half of the inning after a one-out ground-rule double, the sixth extra base hit he allowed on the night, followed by a single. Kuroda has struggled for much of September and was fortunate to limit the Jays to two runs over 5 1/3 innings as David Phelps allowed the inherited runner to score on a force out but finished out the frame without further damage.
Phelps stayed on for the seventh and coughed up a two-run homer to Adam Lind bringing the Jays within four. However, the Yankees continued to tack on runs scoring one in both the seventh and eighth, plus added two in the ninth on Eric Chavez‘s 15th home run of the season.
David Robertson got some work in during the eighth and Yankees closer Rafael Soriano pitched to two batters in the ninth in an effort to stay fresh. Robertson hadn’t pitched since September 24 and it was Soriano’s first appearance in a week.
In this afternoon’s game Andy Pettitte will make his last regular season start against Ricky Romero. Pettitte (5-3, 2.71 ERA) has not allowed a run in eleven innings since coming off the disabled list and he should be unrestricted in the number of pitches he’ll throw today. Romero (9-14, 5.76 ERA) won his last start snapping a personal 14-game losing streak.