Cole, Sánchez, Chapman come through as Yanks edge Blue Jays
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Gerrit Cole pitched eight effective innings, pinch-hitter Gary Sánchez connected for a two-run homer and Aroldis Chapman dodged trouble in the ninth as the New York Yankees held off the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Sánchez’s 10th homer of the season in the seventh gave the Yankees back-to-back wins behind key pinch hits, following Clint Frazier’s go-ahead double in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 6-5 victory.
Chapman allowed hits to the first two batters in the ninth, putting runners at second and third, but escaped for his 14th save.
“They definitely made me work,” Chapman said through a translator. “To be able to come in and grind it out and get the victory, it was awesome.”
Cole (8-3) held the Blue Jays to four hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Marcus Semien and Cavan Biggio homered for Toronto, which has lost three straight and five of seven. Ross Stripling (2-4) limited New York to three hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings and tied a season high with nine strikeouts.
In the ninth, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off with a single and Teoscar Hernández followed with a double to right field. After striking out Randal Grichuk, Chapman fielded a comebacker and started a play in which Sánchez threw out Guerrero, who was trying to retreat to third base. The call was upheld after a 70-second video review.
Chapman then got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to fly out to end the game.
“For me, he’s the best closer in the game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You have to keep making pitches, especially when you’re up against an offense that put together really good at-bats. When you’re the best at something you do, you’re out there with some confidence.”
Plate umpire CB Bucknor was hit in the mask by Chapman’s first pitch to Gurriel, a ball Bucknor ruled was fouled off by Gurriel. However, Bucknor didn’t immediately signal foul ball as he staggered from being struck, and Hernandez came almost all the way home before being stopped.
Replays showed Gurriel may not have made contact with the pitch. Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo argued for a review. The umpires convened, affirmed among themselves it was a foul ball, and informed Montoyo the play was not reviewable.
When asked if his heart raced during the ninth, Boone smiled and referred to the procedure he had in March: “I have a pacemaker, so it keeps it nice and steady.”
The ninth-inning drama overshadowed a fine pitching duel between Cole and Stripling.
After the Yankees scored a first-inning run, Stripling set down 18 of 20 batters and allowed no hits until Miguel Andújar singled leading off the seventh, the precursor to Sánchez’s homer, which elicited chants of “Gary! Gary!” from a Yankees-centric crowd of 7,271 at Toronto’s temporary home in western New York.
Cole, meanwhile, retired 22 of his last 25 batters, with the only blemishes being a two-out walk in the second inning, Biggio’s fifth-inning homer, and Hernández reaching on an error in the sixth.
“We don’t need to be frustrated,” Montoyo said. “Losing games like this is tough, but we’re playing good.”
Toronto reliever Rafael Doliz, who replaced Stripling, left the game with an apparent injury after issuing a four-pitch walk.
“He said he had no sensation in his hand, so we took him out,” Montoyo said. “He couldn’t feel the ball.”
ADDING UP THE STRIKEOUTS
With his first-inning strikeout of Grichuk, Cole broke a tie for the most punchouts by a Yankees pitcher over the first 14 starts of a season. Cole entered the game tied with Masahiro Tanaka, who had 113 in 2014.
Yankees: RHP Corey Kluber (shoulder strain) is on a throwing program, playing catch from 60 feet. ... RHP Darren O’Day (strained rotator cuff) threw a bullpen and could begin a rehab assignment this weekend. ... Boone said 1B Luke Voit (strained oblique) is doing well in his rehab and could return within the next week.
Blue Jays: RHP Carl Edwards Jr., who left Tuesday’s game after five pitches with a left oblique strain, was placed on the 10-day injured list. ... RHP Patrick Murphy (strained right A/C joint) was reinstated from the 60-day IL and pitched a perfect inning. ... LHP Travis Bergen (left shoulder impingement) was reinstated from the 10-day IL and optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
The series concludes Thursday night with New York RHP Michael King (0-3, 3.77 ERA) facing RHP T.J. Zeuch (0-2, 6.75), who will be promoted from Triple-A Buffalo for the start.
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