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McCann, Ellsbury lead Yankees to 3-2 win over Blue Jays

Chase Headley scores the go-ahead run on Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI single in the seventh. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Chase Headley scores the go-ahead run on Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single in the seventh. 

TORONTO – The Yankees are determined not to let history repeat itself.

Having watched their seven-game lead dwindle away against the red-hot Blue Jays last summer – thanks largely to their own 4-9 mark against Toronto during the final two months of the season – the Yankees started the season series in much better fashion.

The Yankees dealt the Blue Jays a 3-2 loss at Rogers Centre Tuesday in their first of 19 meetings, getting a few timely hits and a dominant effort from the bullpen to take the series opener.

Masahiro Tanaka labored through five wild yet relatively effective innings, holding the powerful Blue Jays to two runs.

Brian McCann’s sixth-inning homer tied the game, while Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single in the seventh gave the Yankees a one-run lead.

The bullpen did the rest as Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined to record the final nine outs, capping four no-hit innings of pinstriped relief. Rookie reliever Johnny Barbato, who threw a scoreless sixth, picked up his first major-league win.

The Yankees improved to 4-2 on the young season, winning for the first time in a game while scoring three runs or fewer.

Tanaka was working with two extra days of rest, his last start coming on Opening Day. Whether it was the extended break or simply rust, something caused the Yankees’ ace to struggle with his command.

“You worry about the sharpness of their pitches,” Girardi said before the game when asked about the lengthy layoff caused by Sunday’s rainout in Detroit and Monday’s scheduled off day. “All of our guys are basically pitching on a week’s rest now and you worry a little bit about that but hopefully they find it quickly.”

Masahiro Tanaka struggles but manages to get through five innings allowing just two runs.Fred Thornhill/AP

Masahiro Tanaka struggles but manages to get through five innings allowing just two runs.

That’s not to say the Blue Jays were hitting him hard. Tanaka walked a pair of batters in the first before fanning Troy Tulowitzki to strand them both. He issued a leadoff walk to Chris Colabello in the second, though he went on to strike out the next three, one of them a 10-pitch battle against Russell Martin.

The Yankees took a lead in the top of the second thanks to a boneheaded throwing error by starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who inexplicably attempted a pickoff throw to second base with McCann taking up residence at the bag.

Sanchez’s throw sailed into the outfield, allowing McCann to advance to third and Chase Headley to second, setting up Starlin Castro’s run-scoring grounder.

Toronto answered in the third against Tanaka, who needed 54 pitches to get through the first two innings.

Tanaka hit Kevin Pillar and gave up a Josh Donaldson single to open the third, then Jose Bautista drilled a double over Ellsbury’s head in center, giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead

Tanaka was at 70 pitches with one out in the third and runners at first and second for Colabello, bringing pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the mound for a chat.

Whatever he said, it worked. Tanaka’s next pitch went for a 6-4-3 double play, holding the deficit at one run.

Sanchez settled down after giving up the unearned run in the second, allowing only one hit over the next three innings. But McCann evened things up in the top of the sixth with a no-doubter to right field, his second home run of the season taking Tanaka off the hook for a potential loss.

Tanaka exited after five innings and 92 pitches, taking a no-decision while allowing two runs on three hits and four walks, striking out six.

Headley led off the seventh with a single and Castro walked, advancing on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. Ellsbury’s bloop single scored Headley, handing the back end of the bullpen a 3-2 lead.

A year ago, the Yankees were 66-3 when leading after six innings, but that was with Justin Wilson handling seventh-inning duties on most nights.

Shreve got two quick outs in the seventh before walking Donaldson. Girardi wasted no time in calling on Betances to face the righthanded Bautista.

Donaldson stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position, while Bautista worked a 3-1 count against Betances. The big righty pumped a 95 mph fastball in for a called strike, then dropped a filthy breaking ball on Bautista with a full count, freezing him for a called third strike to end the inning.

Betances came back and fired a perfect eighth, striking out two more. He has nine strikeouts in four innings this season.

Miller closed it out with a scoreless ninth, earning his second save.

McCann took a foul ball off his big toe behind the plate in the bottom of the fifth and was headed for x-rays after the game. Girardi said he won’t be a player on Wednesday. 

Daily News – Sports

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