Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first game of a double header at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images
Wednesday afternoon in New York, Andy Pettitte pitched five shutout innings in his first start since June, and the Yankees hung on for a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Well, that didn't last long. Wednesday morning (Eastern Time), the Baltimore Orioles finished beating the Seattle Mariners in an 18-inning marathon to grab a share of first place in the American League East.
Wednesday afternoon, though, the Yankees beat the Blue Jays to take a half-game lead over the Orioles. And the key was Andy Pettitte, who pitched five shutout innings in his first start for the Yankees since late June. Pettitte, finally on the mound after a long recovery from an ankle injury, was pulled from the game after throwing 75 pitches.
His opposite number, Toronto's Henderson Alvarez, actually pitched one of his better games this season, giving up just five and no walks in seven innings, while striking out seven Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees opened the contest with three straight hits, capped by Robinson Canó's two-run double, on their way to a three-run inning.
The Blue Jays didn't score against Pettitte, or against the Yankees' relief pitchers in the sixth and seventh. In the eighth, though, they opened with three straight hits of their own against David Robertson, the last of them driving in a run and leaving Jays on first and second. Robertson did strike out rookie Moisés Sierra, only to see 45-year-old Omar Vizquel driving a double into the right-field corner to plate another run.
With Jays on second and third, Robertson struck out Adeiny Hechavarria, but Joe Girardi had seen enough and summoned closer Rafael Soriano for a four-out save. It wasn't easy. After a battle in which Anthony Gose came a couple of feet from a two-run double down the left-field line, Gose walked to load the bases. But Soriano finally got his first out, as Rajai Davis shot a line drive to short left field, where Ichiro Suzuki made a tough catch on a ball that handcuffed him. Threat over, though, with the Yankees' 3-2 lead preserved.
In the ninth -- after the Yankees scored an insurance run against Darren Oliver, with Nick Swisher ripping an RBI single past Brett Lawrie to plate Ichiro -- Soriano got outs two, three and four in quick succession to earn his 41st save. And for the 37,819th time since 1920, the Yankees had first place all to themselves.
For a few hours, anyway. Later Wednesday, the Yankees were slated to host the Jays once more, while the Orioles would play another game deep into the night in Seattle. One way or another, somebody's going to finish Wednesday in sole possession of first place.
Trivial Note: With two hits in the game, Vizquel caught and passed Babe Ruth for 41st on the all-time list.