It was hot, and he probably had other engagements on the road to his reported $100-million free-agent contract, so it was no surprise when Stoudemire headed for the exit. But boy, did a lot happen after he left:
Three Yankees were thrown out at the plate on drives that reached the outfield, two on consecutive plays in the fifth inning;
Brett Gardner drove in two runs with an inside-the-park home run when Wise lost his long fly to center in the sun, the second day in a row a Toronto outfielder lost one that way (resulting in five Yankees runs);
Mariano Rivera blew a save for the second time in 20 chances when Wise - that man again - singled to drive in a run with two outs in the ninth inning;
And finally, pinch hitter Marcus Thames - activated from the disabled list before the game - lofted a walk-off single to center with two outs in the 10th to give the Yankees a 7-6 victory.
"That's a huge hit for us,'' Joe Girardi said of Thames' single off lefthander David Purcey. The hit drove in Robinson Cano, who had walked to lead off the inning and was bunted to second by Francisco Cervelli. Gardner drew a two-out walk before Thames batted for Ramiro Peña.
"He jammed me a little bit, but I'll take it if it gets us a hit and gets us a run and wins us a ballgame," said Thames, who broke his bat on the 3-and-2 pitch. "It cracked pretty good," he said.
It was the second game-ending hit for Thames, the only two for the Yankees this season. He got a pie in the face both times courtesy of A.J. Burnett.Thames, who had been out since June 13 with a strained right hamstring, beat Boston on May 17 with a homer off Jonathan Papelbon.
The Yankees picked up their 50th win at the exact midpoint of the season, game No. 81, putting them on pace for 100 victories. They won despite losing Jorge Posada, who left after being hit on the left ring finger by Fred Lewis' foul tip in the seventh inning. The Yankees said Posada has a sprain; X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.
Other than Thames' hit, the main highlight was Gardner's homer. He wasn't one of six Yankees selected to the American League All-Star team and didn't even make the fan vote for the final spot. He did get something nice, though: a gift homer that tied the score at 5-5 in the sixth.
With the Yankees trailing 5-3, Gardner sent a fly ball to deep center, and the sun swallowed it as it came down in the vicinity, but not the glove, of Wise. The ball hit off the top of his glove and bounced to the fence as he fell. Gardner, whose legs made him a major-leaguer, raced around the bases and scored standing up without a throw.
On Saturday, Gardner hit a grand slam in the Yankees' much easier 11-3 win.
Mark Teixeira's RBI double gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead in the seventh. But Rivera - who had allowed 13 hits in 311/3 innings entering the game - gave up singles by Lyle Overbay, John Buck and Wise in the ninth.
Wise, best known for the incredible ninth-inning catch that saved Mark Buehrle's perfect game last July, had an interesting day. In addition to the tying single, the three-run shot off the foul pole that gave Toronto a 4-3 lead (after Hughes recorded two outs with his first two pitches of the fifth) and the dropped fly, he picked up assists on consecutive plays in the bottom of the fifth.
With the Yankees trailing 4-3, Nick Swisher singled and Teixeira doubled, but Wise relayed the ball to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who nailed Swisher for the first out as Jose Molina blocked the plate. Then Wise threw out Teixeira at the plate after catching Alex Rodriguez's fly ball.
After Teixeira's double, the Yankees had runners on second and third with none out in the seventh, but A-Rod struck out and Swisher was thrown out at home to end the inning after rightfielder Jose Bautista caught Cervelli's foul fly.