TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays ensured they’ll complete this current stretch of 28 games in 27 days in sole possession of second place in the American League East after a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday gave them a three-game cushion in the standings.
Jonathan Davis delivered a two-run homer in his first at-bat of the season to back some clever escape work by Taijuan Walker and five more innings of strong relief by the bullpen for a sixth win in eight outings.
They’re 18-9 through this extended run of games, and 24-18 overall, with only Wednesday’s series finale against the Yankees remaining before they finally get a day of rest.
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Walker, making his third start since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners, was all over the place with his fastball and ended up walking five batters over four frames. Still, he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, stranded two more runners in the second, had Danny Jansen throw out Aaron Hicks at third in an otherwise clean third before leaving two more men on in the fourth.
A nice play by Santiago Espinal on a D.J. LeMahieu grounder up the middle maintained a 2-0 lead at that point, and as he walked off the mound, Walker barked at home-plate umpire Brennan Miller as he walked toward the dugout, angry over a called ball that appeared to be in zone and would have ended the inning.
Jansen and pitching coach Pete Walker stepped in to pull Walker away, but at 88 pitches through four, manager Charlie Montoyo turned to his beleaguered bullpen to finish things off.
Shun Yamaguchi loaded the bases with none out in the fifth but limited the damage to a Mike Tauchman sacrifice fly and then threw a clean sixth. A.J. Cole, pitching for the sixth time in 11 days, handled the seventh, Anthony Kay took care of the eighth and Rafael Dolis, in his fifth outing in nine days, closed things down in the ninth for his third save.
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Davis, recalled Monday when Teoscar Hernandez hit the injured list, followed a Joe Panik single in the second by hammering a J.A. Happ fastball an estimated 411 feet for a 2-0 lead.
The defensive whiz and speedster put his finger up in the air and clapped his hands as he rounded first base afterwards.
“With the defence he plays and how he runs the bases, if he hits just OK, he could be in the big leagues for 10 to 12 years,” Montoyo said of Davis before the game. “He can be that kind of player. He’s going to get a chance now to see what he can do.”
Happ, the former Blue Jays all-star, gave up precious little else, striking out 10 in 6.1 innings.
Rowdy Tellez left the game in the ninth after appearing to tweak his right foot chasing a foul ball in the eighth. His status was uncertain.