The Toronto Blue Jays paid tribute to retiring manager Cito Gaston with an on-field ceremony before last night’s game and then gave him a proper sendoff by not only setting the franchise record for most home runs, but also besting the Yankees in a season series for the first time since 2000.
Entering the game, the Jays had belted a league leading 244 round trippers, which matched the total established by the aforementioned 2000 team (for those interested in cosmic links, a Batista, minus the “u”, also led the Jays in homers that season). It didn’t take long to break that link to the past, however, as Travis Snider, who along with several teammates sported a fake mustache in honor of Gaston, belted Javier Vazquez’ fourth pitch of the game deep into the right field stands. With the home run, Vazquez also wrote his name into the record books, but not on a page he’d like to see it. The Snider blast was the 30th homer surrendered by Vazquez, making him the only pitcher in franchise history to allow at least as many in two different seasons.
Yankee Pitchers Who Surrendered More than 30 HR in a Season
Both Vazquez and the Jays added to their history making efforts later in the game when John Buck launched a solo blast in the second and Aaron Hill sent Vazquez to the showers with a three run shot in the fifth. Although his concerns are likely elsewhere, Vazquez can take some solace in knowing that he wasn’t alone on the team in helping assist the Jays with their record setting performance. The Yankees surrendered 33 home runs to the Jays in 2010, 21 of which came courtesy of Vazquez, Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett.
On a more positive note, Alex Rodriguez made some history of his own by belting his 30th home run of the season in the sixth. Like Vazquez, the number had special meaning for Arod because it gave the Yankees’ third baseman a record setting 13th consecutive season with 100 RBIs and 30 homers, not to mention an all-time best 14th such season overall. Despite missing over 20 games for the third consecutive season, a late surge once again carried Arod across the milestone’s finish line. Last year, it was a historic 2 HR and 7 RBI inning in Tampa that turned the trick, while this season it was a more methodical 9 HR and 26 RBI September that cinched the accomplishment.
30 HR/100 RBI Seasons
While history was being made all around the ballpark, the Yankees were squandering another golden opportunity to leap back into first place. Another Rays’ loss to the Orioles once again opened the door, but the lousy pitching of Vazquez quickly slammed it shut. After Arod’s historic blast, the Yankees did mount a rally that saw Nick Swisher come to the plate with the bases loaded as the tying run, but after a double play ball the air was completely let out of the game. Meanwhile, Brett Cecil pitched another gem against the Yankees, upping his season record against the Bronx Bombers to 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA. In keeping with the theme of the night, Cecil’s four victories against the Yankees made him the first lefty to accomplish the feat since Chuck Finley did the same in 1996 (with a remarkable 0.57 ERA).
Last Five Lefties to Beat Yankees Four Times in a Season
|Brett Cecil||2010||4||4||2.93||27 2/3||15|
|Chuck Finley||1996||4||4||0.57||31 1/3||32|
|Geoff Zahn||1979||4||4||1.59||28 1/3||7|
|Mike Flanagan||1978||4||4||2.37||30 1/3||14|
Not only did Vazquez help to pitch the Yankees out of the division title, he probably also pitched himself off the post season roster. On the other hand, Royce Ring may be slowly pitching his way onto it. In the fifth, Ring was summoned to face lefty Adam Lind and retired the slugger on a ground ball to third. Granted, Ring’s appearance lasted only one batter, but if promoted to the post season roster, that’s exactly the role he would occupy. Carrying a second lefty specialist might be too much of a luxury for the post season roster, but it’s getting to the point where the Yankees can simply not afford to trust a playoff game to the cadre of righty long men who might otherwise fill the slot.