Yankees starting to growl in dog days

The Yankees are trying to convince their American League East rivals that they are not out of contention. The Yanks made a very convincing argument Monday night in a 1-0 victory over the first-place Blue Jays.

OK, maybe convincing is overstating it a mite. The Yankees had a miserable night of it with runners in scoring position (2-for-18) and left 14 runners on base. It was their highest number of runners left on base in a 1-0 victory since July 4, 1925 when they stranded 15 against the Philadelphia Athletics. But in games like this, pitching becomes paramount, and pitching the Yankees got.

One night after Luis Severino struggled against the Rays, another young pitcher, Chad Green, had a terrific outing. The righthander flirted with a perfect game into the fifth inning when he lost it but pitched out of a jam to maintain the one-run lead.

Troy Tulowitzki broke up the perfecto bid with a single to left field. Darrell Ceciliani then ripped a double into the right field corner, which put Green into trouble for the first time. He handled it with authority by striking out Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton Jr.

That was the only inning the Blue Jays reached base against Green (2-2), who retired the side in order in his other five innings. He got three strikeouts apiece in three innings and totaled 11 in his six innings. The Yankees got 1-2-3 innings from Tyler Clippard in the seventh and Adam Warren in the eighth before Dellin Betances (fifth save) walked the wire in the ninth.

A leadoff walk to .155-batting, 9-hole hitter Josh Thole and a one-out single by Josh Donaldson gave Toronto runners on the corners with one out and the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion (33 home runs, 97 RBI) at the plate. Encarnacion made solid contact on the first pitch, but his hard ground ball to third baseman Chase Headley was turned into a game-ending, around-the-horn double play.

Talk about walking the wire, R.A. Dickey did the same in his five innings of work. The knuckleballer gave up four hits and four walks but repeatedly worked out of danger. The Yankees had the first two batters on base in both the first and second innings and could not get them home.

They finally broke through in the fourth when Aaron Judge followed two walks with a double to right-center. Judge is the first player in Yankees history to get an extra-base hit in each of his first three career games.

The Yankees posed another threat in the fifth when Headley led off with a double, but Dickey (8-13) once again turned them away. Against the Toronto bullpen, the Yanks failed to capitalize on bases-loaded situations in the sixth and the eighth. They had three at-bats with runners in scoring position in six different innings and were successful only twice with one of the hits failing to drive in a run.

The victory put the Yankees 5 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, although they remained 4 1/2 games behind for the second wild-card berth as the Red Sox also won in Cleveland. Still, the addition of the new, young talent has had an uplift on the field and in the clubhouse. The Yankees are showing some bite in the dog days of August.

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