Yankees 10 Blue Jays 5
TORONTO — With their star closer sidelined, the New York Yankees were not going to leave things to chance in the ninth inning.
Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit home runs in the top of the ninth, propelling them to a 10-5 win over the floundering Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
Toronto came into the ninth down by two runs with Mariano Rivera, New York’s lights-out closer, unavailable due to a tender left groin.
However, Rodriguez hit a solo shot before Posada belted a second-deck, two-run homer off Jason Frasor to put the game out of reach.
Suddenly the absence of Rivera didn’t seem quite as significant.
“We are playing good ball, there’s no doubt about that,” Posada said. “I think it’s just the way our pitchers are doing it, giving us a chance to win, staying in the game, not really letting down. I think that’s the reason we’re playing the way we are.”
Alfredo Aceves (10-1) picked up the win for New York thanks to 2 1/3 innings of relief, while rookie lefty Ricky Romero (11-7) was tagged with the loss for Toronto.
Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte combined to close out the eighth and ninth innings.
New York has now won seven straight and is a Major League-best 35-11 since the all-star break. Toronto, by contrast, has dropped four consecutive games and seven of its last eight as the team continues to crumble in the late stages of the season.
The Jays, 7-20 in their last 27 games, trail the American East-leading Yankees by 26.5 games.
New York is 72-1 when leading after eight innings this season.
Things took a bad turn early for the Jays as a terrible gaffe by right-fielder Travis Snider in the first inning led to three Yankee runs. Romero dug himself a hole by granting two walks and a single to load the bases with one out.
Hideki Matsui then pulled a soft single to right, which Snider completely misplayed, allowing the ball to get under his glove and roll to the wall. That cleared the bases and put Matsui on third until the next batter, Posada, drove him in with a single.
Just like that, the Bronx Bombers had a 4-0 lead, to the dismay of the Rogers Centre crowd of 22,773.
“I guess I just came up trying to throw too quick before I had the ball in my glove and unfortunately, to put Ricky in a position like that early in the game against an offence like that, it’s tough on any pitcher,” said the 21-year-old Snider.
“I just look to learn from it and try and get better next time I go out there.”
Toronto manager Cito Gaston said he could relate.
“I’ve been there,” Gaston said. “It’s hard to describe how you feel, you feel really bad inside and embarrassed. It seems like you’re never going to get to that ball when you’re running after it. But as I told him, if he plays long enough it’ll happen again.”
Romero struck out seven but struggled with his control, walking six batters and surrendering six hits over 4 1/3 innings of work.