Yankees rally for 3 runs in 8th to beat Blue Jays 4-3
NEW YORK (AP) It took nearly all night for the New York Yankees to get warmed up.
Hard to blame them.
Chase Headley hit a tiebreaking single that deflected off the wrist of reliever Brett Cecil, and the Yankees rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 in chilly conditions Wednesday.
''A little fortuitous, for sure,'' Headley said. ''We fought and clawed and it turned out in our favor.''
Michael Pineda pitched six solid innings for the Yankees, who improved to 30-6 at home against Toronto since May 24, 2011. Jacoby Ellsbury scored twice and reached base safely all four times up.
New York took advantage of mistakes by Toronto's bullpen, fighting back from a two-run deficit for its first victory of the season after knuckleballer R.A. Dickey gave the Blue Jays 6 1-3 effective innings.
In front of New York's smallest crowd for a home game in 11 years, Andrew Miller worked a perfect ninth in his Yankees debut for the second save of his career.
''That was pretty cool,'' Miller said. ''It's nice to get your first win under your belt, and I think the 25 guys in here probably kind of can have a little sigh of relief and now we can just get to playing baseball.''
Toronto pushed its lead to 3-1 in the eighth when Jose Bautista scored on a throwing error by catcher Brian McCann. But the bullpen couldn't hold it.
Pinch-hitter Chris Young opened the bottom half with a bloop double that eluded rookie second baseman Devon Travis. Ellsbury singled, and Aaron Loup (0-1) loaded the bases when he hit Brett Gardner with a pitch.
Young scored on a wild pitch by Cecil, who forced in the tying run when he plunked McCann with a pitch. Headley then hit a one-hopper that caromed off Cecil's right wrist and past shortstop to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
''We imploded. Wind-blown hit, then we hit a couple of guys,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ''We coughed it up.''
Dellin Betances (1-0) got the win.
Many players wore knit hats and hooded sweat shirts during batting practice, and the game began in a steady drizzle on a 44-degree night at a mostly empty Yankee Stadium. The announced crowd of 31,020 was New York's smallest at home since Sept. 23, 2004, at the old ballpark across 161st street.
The rain soon stopped, but the wind picked up and the raw chill never dissipated.
Pitching in short sleeves, Pineda held the Blue Jays to two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one.
The last time Pineda took the mound on a cold April night, he was caught using pine tar in Boston to get a better grip and suspended 10 games.
''I'm sure we'll have a lot of eyes on him tonight,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said with a chuckle before the game. ''I think he understands, yes. I hope.''
THE NEXT GENERATION
Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 in his second game since returning from a yearlong drug suspension. With the Yankees already ahead, he struck out looking with the bases loaded in the eighth against 20-year-old Roberto Osuna, who became the youngest pitcher in Blue Jays history.
The 39-year-old Rodriguez was the first major league hitter to face Osuna, who tossed the ball into the dugout as a keepsake. Rodriguez, who earlier flied out to deep left into a stiff wind, had already played in 17 big league games when Osuna was born.
Blue Jays: OF Michael Saunders (left knee) is set to begin a rehab assignment Thursday night with Class A Dunedin. Gibbons said Saunders is coming along quicker than he expected, but there's no target date for his return and it won't be this weekend in Baltimore.
Yankees: Girardi said the team met with RHP Masahiro Tanaka and discussed Tanaka's recent comments through a translator that indicated he expects his velocity to be down this season while pitching with a small tear in his elbow. ''I think what he was meaning to say is, I'm not a flamethrower. That's not how I pitch,'' Girardi said. ''My conversations with him, it's a strategic thing. He knows that his four-seamer got hit some last year.''
Blue Jays: Rookie LHP Daniel Norris gets his second major league start Thursday night. The 21-year-old from Tennessee received plenty of attention in spring training for his unusual, rustic lifestyle - he was living out of his 1978 Volkswagen van in a Wal-Mart parking lot and cooking on a portable stove.
Yankees: CC Sabathia, coming off knee surgery, makes his first start since May 2014 in the series finale. The 34-year-old lefty is 10-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his past 12 games against Toronto.