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Toronto at New York

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Toronto010000100232
N.Y. Yankees «00131002x7111

Sheffield's three-run job helps Yankees over Blue Jays

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

NEW YORK -- While Randy Johnson's health appears to be deteriorating, Gary Sheffield appears to be regaining his form as the playoffs approach.

Sheffield hit his first home run since returning from wrist surgery, a tiebreaking, three-run drive that led the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 Friday night.

New York's win, combined with losses by Detroit and Minnesota, assured the Yankees home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

"We got our 10th man," Sheffield said. "It's big in the playoffs, and as loud as these guys get, they're going to pull us all the way through."

Mike Mussina (15-7) tuned up for his start in Game 2 of the playoffs by allowing one run and two hits in six innings, Jorge Posada hit a two-run homer and Alex Rodriguez had three hits for the Yankees, who have a major league-best 97-63 record. Rodriguez also made another overthrow from third base, his 24th error of the season.

Before the game, New York said Johnson has a herniated disc in his lower back, an injury that could prevent him from pitching in the playoffs next week. After being examined by team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon and back specialist Dr. Paul Kuflick, the Big Unit received an epidural injection Friday.

Sheffield, who had wrist surgery June 13, homered for the first time since April 26, ending a span of 68 homerless at-bats. The no-doubt-about-it drive to left off Gustavo Chacin (9-4) gave Sheffield 1,500 RBI.

"(The wrist) is feeling great. I have to thank my doctor and my physical therapist. These guys have been tremendous in bringing me back," Sheffield said. "They told me it's amazing that I'm even playing. It's a testament to wanting to come back and play with these guys."

He is 6-for-26 (.231) with five RBI since returning to the lineup Sept. 22, and he appears to be adapting quickly to first base, a position he had never played in the major leagues before this month.

"He looked a lot more comfortable (at the plate) and at first base, too. I'm pretty comfortable that he can do the job over there," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "That three-run homer was big for him, just to get that out of the way."

Mussina (15-7) won for just the second time in nine starts since July 30, striking out four and walking none. He gave up Troy Glaus' 38th homer leading off the second, then retired his final 15 batters.

"The counts weren't too tough. It wasn't 3-2 or 3-1 very often," said Mussina, who threw 64 of 88 pitches for strikes. "It's kind of the way you hope to pitch most days you go out there. It was nice."

Mussina was 13-3 with a 3.40 ERA through July, but then went 1-4 with a 4.19 ERA in eight starts going into Friday, getting past the sixth inning just once in that span.

With Johnson's health uncertain, Mussina's outing was a big boost.

"The day I pitch is the only day I can worry about," Mussina said. "We've got guys who can pitch. We've had guys that can pitch all year. If we have to piece it together, then we do. Our chances are really good if he's out there. But he also might not be out there, and we'll have to deal with it if that's the case."

Brian Bruney relieved to start the seventh with a 5-1 lead and walked Aaron Hill with the bases loaded, just the second run off Bruney in 19 2/3 innings since he joined the Yankees. Scott Proctor retired Russ Adams on an inning-ending groundout and pitched a scoreless eighth.

"We had a chance with the bases loaded and one out, couldn't do it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "They held us in check all night. Mussina was on. He'll carve you up."

Chacin (9-4), who had been 3-0 in five starts since Aug. 23, allowed five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. Toronto dropped into a second-place tie with Boston in the AL East.

New York tied the score in the third when Robinson Cano led the inning off with a single and came home while Derek Jeter was caught in a rundown during Bobby Abreu's double play grounder.

Rodriguez's RBI double in the fifth chased Chacin, and Posada homered off Jeremy Accardo in the eighth.

Notes

  • Cano went 1-for-4 and dropped one point to .342, one point ahead of Jeter, who went 2-for-4. Minnesota's Joe Mauer was 0-for-4 Friday and leads the AL at .346.
  • Johnny Damon went 0-for-3 and is in a 3-for-28 (.107) slide.
  • The Yankees drew 52,331, raising their home attendance to an AL record 4,138,605, topping the previous mark of 4,090,692, which they set last year. They have two home dates remaining.
  • Chacin is 2-6 against the Yankees.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Gary Sheffield draws a crowd after hitting a three-run shot, his first home run in 68 at-bats.  (AP)
Gary Sheffield draws a crowd after hitting a three-run shot, his first home run in 68 at-bats. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

G. Sheffield
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Toronto

T. Glaus
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Toronto Blue Jays
Alex Rios, RF4000000 .297
Frank Catalanotto, LF4000001 .303
Vernon Wells, CF4010001 .303
Lyle Overbay, 1B4110022 .311
Troy Glaus, 3B2111100 .254
   a- John Hattig, PH1000010 .350
Bengie Molina, C2000110 .284
    Kevin Barker, PR0000000 .250
    Jason Phillips, C1000000 .286
Gregg Zaun, DH3000013 .274
   b- Adam Lind, PH-DH1000010 .351
Aaron Hill, 2B-SS2001110 .291
John McDonald, SS1000000 .213
   c- Russ Adams, PH-2B2000003 .220
Totals312323710 
a-struck out for Glaus in the 9th
b-struck out for Zaun in the 9th
c-flied out for McDonald in the 6th
Batting
HR - Troy Glaus (38, Mussina)
RBI - Troy Glaus (104), Aaron Hill (48)
2-OUT RBI - Aaron Hill (23)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Vernon Wells 1
DP - V. Wells-Hill, Hill-Overbay-McDonald
E - Aaron Hill (19, Throwing), John McDonald (14, Misplayed grounder)
Toronto Blue Jays
Gustavo Chacin (L,9-4) 4.2754141 5.05
Brian Tallet 2.1200010 3.81
Jeremy Accardo 1222011 5.05
HBP - Damon (by Gustavo Chacin)
Pitches-Strikes - Gustavo Chacin 86-55, Brian Tallet 32-22, Jeremy Accardo 23-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gustavo Chacin 4-5, Brian Tallet 2-4, Jeremy Accardo 1-1
Batters Faced - Gustavo Chacin 22, Brian Tallet 9, Jeremy Accardo 5
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon, CF3100010 .286
Derek Jeter, SS4020011 .341
Bobby Abreu, RF4000012 .298
Alex Rodriguez, 3B4131001 .289
Jason Giambi, DH1000100 .252
    Bernie Williams, PR-DH2210001 .282
Gary Sheffield, 1B4113000 .295
    Andy Phillips, 1B0000000 .243
Hideki Matsui, LF2010010 .304
   a- Melky Cabrera, PH-LF2000011 .278
Jorge Posada, C4122002 .277
Robinson Cano, 2B4110011 .342
    Miguel Cairo, 2B0000000 .234
Totals347116169 
a-grounded out for Matsui in the 6th
Batting
2B - Alex Rodriguez (26, Chacin), Jorge Posada (27, Tallet)
HR - Gary Sheffield (5, Chacin), Jorge Posada (22, Accardo)
RBI - Alex Rodriguez (119), Gary Sheffield 3 (24), Jorge Posada 2 (91)
2-OUT RBI - Alex Rodriguez (43), Jorge Posada 2 (37)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Alex Rodriguez (24, Throwing)
New York Yankees
Mike Mussina (W,15-7) 6211041 3.51
Brian Bruney 0.2111310 0.92
Scott Proctor (H,26) 1.1000000 3.55
Kyle Farnsworth 1000020 4.15
WP - Brian Bruney (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Mussina 88-64, Brian Bruney 33-18, Scott Proctor 15-9, Kyle Farnsworth 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Mussina 6-8, Scott Proctor 2-3
Batters Faced - Mike Mussina 20, Brian Bruney 6, Scott Proctor 5, Kyle Farnsworth 3
Game Information
Attendance - 52331
Game Time - 3:05
Temperature - 57
Umpires - Home - Mike Winters, First Base - Brian Runge, Second Base - Paul Emmel, Third Base - Bruce Froemming