Yankee Stadium, the Bronx- The New York Yankees have plenty of known entities when it comes down to getting a big hit. In the second game of a doubleheader against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, it was the lesser known Jayson Nix who admirably filled in the role of hero in the Yankees 3-2 comeback win.
Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, it was Nix who parked his third homer of 2013, a solo-shot home run into the left-field stands off Blue Jays’ starter Mark Buehrle to tie the game at 2-2.
Nix’s night was far from finished however, as his first career walk-off single against Darren Oliver [3-4 with the loss] of Toronto scored pinch-runner Ichiro Suzuki from third base to win the game for the Yankees in a dramatic bottom of the ninth to help the Pinstripes take the first two games of a four-game set over the Blue Jays.
“I feel like we’ve had a little bit of a jolt in our team and we’re playing really well right now,” Nix said. “I think Sori [Alfonso Soriano] coming over here, first off, brings a whole lot of energy to the team. … and then Al [Alex Rodriguez] coming as well and playing good. I feel like as a whole the team’s playing a lot better. I think we all feel pretty good for this final push.”
Most of the attention before the contest was placed on Ichiro, as the veteran outfielder came into the second game of the evening just one hit shy of 4,000 for his career. Having played the first game earlier in the day, Ichiro did not start the second game, and only entered in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch-runner for Mark Reynolds. Ichiro advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Eduardo Nunez, and stole third base to be in the right spot for Nix’s second, and ultimately game-winning hit.
“It changes it a lot. It makes my job a lot easier,” said Nix on Suzuki’s 18th stolen base of the season.
Toronto originally led 1-0 in the top of the first after center-fielder Rajai Davis scored from first after slashing a single and receiving a wild pitch by Yankees’ starter Phil Hughes.
The Bluebirds retook the lead in the top of the fifth after a 1-1 tie courtesy of shortstop Munenori Kawasaki’s triple into right center-field, a hit that slowly dribbled up against the wall of the Yankees bullpen. Kawasaki scored from third on a Davis sacrifice-fly RBI to center to give the Jays the lead back at 2-1.
Hughes, who has struggled all season long, and came into Tuesday night’s game with only one home win, pitched well in a no-decision, going six innings for for two earned runs off seven hits and six strikeouts including a huge one against Jays’ home run threat Edwin Encarnacion in the top of the third inning with runners on second and third.
Buehrle, who hurled 110 pitches, also picked up a no-decision, allowing two earned runs on six hits in 6.2 innings. Buerhle is now win-less in his last 12 games against the Yankees dating back to 2004 with a record of 0-8 and an ERA of 7.45.
Mariano Rivera pitched for the second time in one day, with both outings being of the non-save opportunity variety. Rivera picked up his fourth win of the season in relief of Preston Claiborne, giving up two hits but keeping the Jays from taking the lead with a 2-2 tie.
The Yankees recorded their sixth walk-off win of the year, and are now 10-1 against the Jays in 2013, having won the last eight straight contests between the two clubs. The Yankees longest consecutive win streak against Toronto stands at 13, done twice in team history.
Notes: Rookie left-fielder Kevin Millar of Toronto snagged his first career Major League hit in the top of the third inning of Hughes on a line drive to center-field. Millar had started his professional career in an 0-for-17 slump, the longest hit-less streak to begin a career since Tampa Bay’s Stephen Vogt’s 0-for-32 back in 2012.
Millar’s 17 at-bats to begin a tenure with the Blue Jays without a hit is the most in Toronto history since both David Dellucci and Darrin Fletcher started 0-for-19 in 2009 and 1998 respectively…Blue Jays’ third baseman Brett Lawrie had an amazing defensive play robbing Alfonso Soriano of an infield single in the bottom of the sixth, charging at ball on the grass and making the throw as he fell towards the ground.