NEW YORK-– Typically, especially considering how baseball is played these days, the situation in the top of the seventh for the Toronto Blue Jays would have dictated a call to the bullpen. Rookie lefty Thomas Pannone was at 97 pitches before a crowd of 41,758 at Yankee Stadium. Two men were on with one out midway through his third trip through the order. A pair of hard-hitting righties in Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit were due up for the New York Yankees, who were up a run and looking to add on.
Pretty much a perfect spot for a righty to come in to try and keep things level.
Instead, manager John Gibbons stuck with Pannone, exposing him and rookie catcher Reese McGuire to the kind of proving-ground opportunity that simply can’t be replicated any other way. The duo responded, Pannone inducing a lazy fly ball from Sanchez and a groundball to short from Voit to end the threat, McGuire putting an arm around his pitcher on his way off the field, Gibbons offering up a handshake upon entry to the dugout.
It’s in those kinds of experiences the Blue Jays will derive the most value out of this September, made all the better Sunday by the rally that followed in the eighth inning for a 3-2 win over the Yankees and their only series victory against them this year.
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McGuire, who collected his first big-league RBI in the third with a double that cut New York’s lead to 2-1, started the rally in the eighth with a single off Dellin Betances. He took third on Justin Smoak’s single and scored on Rowdy Tellez’s pinch-hit single to tie things up, while Randal Grichuk’s RBI double put the Blue Jays ahead.
Mark Leiter Jr., stranded Giancarlo Stanton at third in the bottom of the eighth, pumping his fist after striking out Aaron Hicks to end the frame, before Ken Giles locked things down in the ninth for his 22nd save.
The rally made a winner of Pannone, who started the day inauspiciously as Andrew McCutchen …read more