Tanaka, Betances, Yankees double up on Blue Jays, 6-3
NEW YORK — Dellin Betances had the pulse of Yankees Universe in mind, talking about his selection to the all-star game.
“Thank God the players voted last week,” Betances said of the process that put him on Major League Baseball’s American League team for a fourth straight year, despite his recent struggles as the Yankees’ setup man. “I had a tough couple of games.”
Undeterred, manager Joe Girardi put Betances right back into a highleverage situation on Monday night, and the right-hander — with a little help by catcher Gary Sanchez — came through at Yankee Stadium.
Betances held a one-run lead in the eighth, and the Yankees broke it open in the bottom half for a 6-3 victory against the struggling Blue Jays.
After fellow all-stars Aaron Judge (single) and Sanchez (double) and potential all-star Didi Gregorius (walk) loaded the bases to start the ninth, Chase Headley doubled in two runs to open a four-run frame. Aroldis Chapman handed back two runs in the ninth.
Before the game, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman offered an endorsement of Headley, saying that he’s his third baseman.
Tanaka (7-7) pitched seven strong innings, charged with one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out eight Blue Jays and won his second straight start, after having gone winless from May 14 to June 23.
Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman (8-5) steadied after a shaky first inning, giving up two runs — scoring on Headley’s bases-loaded hit by pitch and a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury.
But the Yanks couldn’t get anything else going against Stroman, who lasted five innings and appeared to be dealing with a blister problem on his pitching hand.
Betances’s issues have been with command, mostly with the curveball. Inheriting a 2-1 lead, Betances entered the eighth by striking out Jose Bautista. But he walked Josh Donaldson on a close 3-and-2 curveball that buckled the former MVP’s knees; plate umpire Jerry Meals saw it as just high.
But Betances rebounded to strike out fan all-star starter Justin Smoak with Donaldson running and Sanchez threw a one-hop strike to second, where Headley — on the shift-put down a terrific, quick tag. Betances roared and pounded his glove, rare for him, as he exited the mound and entered into a conversation with Meals.