Last night, the New York Yankees met up with the Toronto Blue Jays for the second set of the young season. The Jays won two of the three-game set in the first meeting. Last night the Yankees turned the tables on the Jays, winning the game 3-1. The game was held in Dunedin, Florida, at TD Stadium because the Jays can not yet play at Roger’s Center in Toronto.
Gerrit Cole was mostly dominant
Last night Gerrit Cole started for the New York Yankees, and Robbie Ray started for the Jays. It was Ray’s Blue Jay debut as he was on the IL at the beginning of the season due to falling down a flight of stairs, missing two starts. Cole first faced Marcus Semien, who popped out to catcher Higashioka, Bo Bichette singled. Vlad Guerrero Jr. singled, moving Bichette to third with one out. Randal Grichuk flew out, but Bichette scored for the Jays lead. Cavan Biggio struck out swinging to end the half, but the Jays put up a run. Cole looked a bit shaky in the first but became dominant in the rest of the game.
The game was the second game in a row that backup catcher Kyle Higashioka caught Cole. He won both games with Kyle catching. In his first game, he had a no-decision being caught by Gary Sanchez. This is important because the duo of Cole and “Higgy” produced an ERA last season of 1.10. When being caught by Sanchez, his ERA was 3.91.
Higashioka became Cole’s personal catcher late in the season and in the postseason with excellent results. But at the start of spring training, manager Aaron Boone made it clear that that would no longer be the case. Knowing the comfort zone of the Cole/Higgy duo made this writer scratch his head.
With a small but important sample, that relationship this season seems to be taking hold. In Cole’s first game of the season, he pitched to a 3.38 ERA. In the last two games caught by Higashioka, he has brought his ERA down to 1.47, giving up no home runs while striking out 21 hitters over 13 innings.
The writing seems to be on the wall, but in a post-game interview last night, when asked if he would stick with Higashioka, Boone said Sanchez would catch Cole, but he was sure Higashioka would get plenty of starts. If the Yankees hope to win the division, it seems they should limit Sanchez’s catching duties when Cole is on the mound. It seems to this writer that it is a no-brainer.
On a side note that is still prominent, Higashioka showed his power behind the plate last night, hitting 2 home runs, tieing for the most home runs of any Yankee. He now has a batting average of .571, the highest of any Yankee with 7 plate appearances. He has a ridiculously high OPS of 2.196.
Yankee bullpen remains stellar
New York Yankees bullpen was again on fire last night. Starter Gerrit Cole went six innings before being replaced by the bullpen. The combination of Justin Wilson, Darren O’Day, and Aroldis Chapman combined with Cole to quiet the Blue Jays lineup, putting down 20 Jays in a row for the Yankee win.
Yankee hitters still need a spark
The New York Yankees won the game last night 3-1 over the Blue Jays, but the Yankee hitting still wasn’t as active as it should be. If it weren’t for the Yankee’s excellent pitching, they probably would have lost the game, they only garnered up 4 hits through nine innings, and none of those hits came from the first 6 in the lineup.
All of the run production came from the bottom 3 hitters in the lineup. Kyle Higashioka who won the game for the Yankees, and Rougned Odor, for the second night in a row, and Mike Tauchman. Odor seems to be adding a spark to the Yankee lineup. In his first Yankee appearance, he won the game for the Yankees. Last night, he got a hit in the game and has not had a Yankee strikeout.