Yankees get another quality start and timely hits in win over first place Jays

By Rich Mancuso

Chase Whitley has become valuable to the New York Yankees pitching rotation and there is no telling how more valuable he will become. Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, in his seventh start, Whitley gave manager Joe Girardi another five good innings. A revived Yankees offense got the early lead and tacked on runs.

All is going good again in the Bronx, even the bullpen did their job in a 7-3 win over the first place Toronto Blue Jays.

For the second straight night the Yankees handed the first place Blue Jays a loss, the 25th straight home win over Toronto dating back to September 19, of 2012. But the important point for the Yankees was another win with good pitching, and the timely hit. All of a sudden first place is getting close and that seemed to be slipping away as of a week ago when they lost two of three games out in Oakland.

If they sweep the three-game series Thursday night, well first place will be a game-and-a half away. The Yankees would also be even in the loss column with Toronto.

There are two aspects to consider with the Yankees during this current string of games with opponents from the AL east. One is how the first place Jays suddenly, are not as invincible as they were a week ago. The other is, the Yankees are 6-2 in their last eight games and are doing things that have not been evident much.

And, the unexpected quality starts are contributing to a revival in the Bronx. Whitley allowed two earned runs and improved to 3-0 after starting his season with four straight no decisions.

“Did not know what to expect when he came up,” Girardi said. “We have never seen him as a starter.  So our expectations have changed a lot.

 The right-hander threw 95 pitches and has been a pleasant addition to the rotation. Whitley made his Major League debut against the cross-town Mets on May 15th after being summoned from Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees needed a starter in the rotation due to their rash of injuries.

He could be here longer, because, Girardi and the Yankees now know what to expect. Whitley has made a claim to stay in the Bronx. Eventually he will increase his length of time on the mound, and he could be a part of a rotation when the inflamed right knee of CC Sabathia heels and that may require more time.       

Though he has not been in the Bronx that long, Whitley has adjusted and was talking like a veteran. He said, the command was not his best. He also gave credit to his catcher, Brian McCann who tied a career high with five runs batted in. The big hit was McCann’s two-run homer in the fourth inning that put New York ahead, 3-2.

There is also a difference in the Yankees clubhouse, and winning will do that.
“We’re relaxed and having fun,” Whitley commented. “It comes with winning, that’s contagious.”

He has learned quickly what it takes to be a winning pitcher, and of course the big hit and night from McCann helped the cause.

"It was about time I chipped it in, and tonight was a good night to do that," McCann said. "It was just nice to contribute… on the offensive side for a change." He also had a bases loaded triple, and this is the type of offense the Yankees have been expecting from their catcher who has been struggling to get the big hit at home.

McCann was hitting .174 in June. It was the type of game he needed and it came off the Jays’ best starter, Mark Buehrie, (10-4) who remained winless in his last 13 starts against the Yankees.

Girardi said, “We really believe in him as an offensive force and he showed it tonight. A couple tough lefties he's facing and he drives in five. He's done a great job behind home plate. He's never taken it behind home plate."

He added, “This is the team we are chasing. These games are extremely important playing teams within your own division.”

Two straight wins over Toronto. These are the games the Yankees need to win and they may be doing it at the right time with more than half a season of games left to play. There is no telling where this new feel of winning will take them. For now though, the Yankees are enjoying it and look for the sweep Thursday night.

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