TORONTO — Those who wish the Yankees’ offense relied less on the home run must have come away thrilled Sunday.
They were shut down for much of the afternoon, but a hit batsman, sacrifice bunt and well-timed single by Brett Gardner in the 10th inning gave the Yankees a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays in front of 39,866 at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees (58-29) were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position before Gardner’s hit and had not scored since the first inning. That run also came without benefit of a home run, as Miguel Andujar delivered a productive out — an RBI grounder with runners on second and third and one out.
“Any way. Any way we can get guys on base,” Gardner said. “Hit by pitch, pinch runner, bunt him over. Just thankful I was able to come through.”
Former Yankee Tyler Clippard came on in the 10th for the Blue Jays and hit Greg Bird with a 2-and-2 pitch. Tyler Wade pinch ran and went to second on Austin Romine’s sacrifice bunt, which was called for from the bench.
Gardner then laced a 1-and-1 changeup to leftfield against Clippard, his old Double-A roommate, to make it 2-1. The speedy Wade easily beat the throw home, touching the plate with his left hand as he slid to the third-base side. Russell Martin had to move to his left to grab Teoscar Hernandez’s one-hop throw and was unable to apply a tag.
With Aaron Boone choosing to stay away from Aroldis Chapman, who left the previous day’s game because of tendinitis in his left knee, David Robertson was called on to close and pitched a perfect 10th to pick up his second save of the season. After taking over for Domingo German to start the seventh, Adam Warren threw two scoreless innings and Chad Green added a scoreless ninth.
German pitched well, throwing five scoreless innings before Kendrys Morales led off the sixth with a tying home run. German allowed that one run, four hits and two walks in six innings, striking out five.
With the Yankees facing a doubleheader today in Baltimore, German’s outing was key, as it helped preserve the bullpen.
“As much as you manage for the day, you have the big picture, especially going into tomorrow and you’re trying to stay away from a few guys in the bullpen,” Boone said. “Domingo picked us up big-time by going six strong, and then to scratch a run there in the 10th, it’s about as good as we could have drawn it up.”
German said his goal is always to go deep in games, but he had the doubleheader in the back of his mind. “As a starter, that’s part of our responsibility,” he said through his translator. “To pitch as many innings as possible and give the bullpen a break.”
German had a lead before he threw his first pitch. Facing lefthander Ryan Borucki, who went seven innings in his third major-league start, Aaron Judge scorched one back up the middle past Borucki’s foot for a one-out single and went to third on Giancarlo Stanton’s double into the rightfield corner. Cleanup hitter Andujar, who had stranded five runners in the first two innings Saturday when he struck out twice on a total of seven pitches, had a better at-bat this time, making it 1-0 with a grounder to second.
Stanton (2-for-5), who entered the day with a .352/.416/.761 slash line against lefthanders, singled to left in the third, with the ball coming off his bat at 120.3 mph, one of the hardest-hit balls of the season. His 90 hits lead the Yankees. Judge, who went 2-for-4, is second with 89.
“It all starts with our pitching,” Gardner said. “I thought German was great today, and once we turned it over to the bullpen, Warren and Greeny and D-Rob, those guys just keep putting up zeros and we were able to come through there in the 10th. It felt good.”