'Pen pitches in to preserve Jays' win
Overbay's homer holds up thanks to 5 2/3 shutout frames
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays reliever Shawn Camp did not take the mound under easy circumstances on Monday night. It was still only the fourth inning, but the Yankees had already launched three home runs to chase rookie starter Marc Rzepczynski from the contest.
"You guys know how the ball carries at this ballpark," Toronto catcher Rod Barajas said.
The bandbox in the Bronx was rocking, and New York was trying to use its early momentum to add to its seven-game winning streak. Instead, Camp and the Jays' bullpen tamed the Yankees' powerful lineup down the stretch, paving the way for a 5-4 victory that gave Toronto three wins in a row for the first time since the end of June.
Camp teamed with relievers Brandon League, Jesse Carlson and Jason Frasor to log 5 2/3 shutout innings, striking out seven and scattering four hits over that span. Thanks to that showing, the solo home run that first baseman Lyle Overbay belted in the fifth inning to put the Jays ahead, 5-4, stood up as the game's decisive blow.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Frasor struck out Nick Swisher with a runner on first base to end the contest, notching his fifth save of the season for Toronto (54-57). Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston -- ejected in the middle of the third inning for arguing balls and strikes -- watched the final inning unfold from inside the visitors' clubhouse.
"Camp came in and did an excellent job for us," Gaston said. "Then, Leaguer and then followed it up with Frasor. Our guys pitched pretty well."
Rzepczynski, who also faced the Yankees (69-43) last week, earned a no-decision after allowing four runs on seven hits over just 3 1/3 innings. New York's Derek Jeter led off the first inning by drilling a 2-0 offering from the young left-hander to center field for a solo home run. Rzepczynski also allowed a sacrifice fly to Swisher in the third inning.
The Jays, who received a solo homer from Aaron Hill in the third inning, broke through for three runs against Yankees right-hander Sergio Mitre (1-1) to take a 4-2 advantage in the fourth. The rally began with a throwing error by Mitre, who gloved a grounder off the bat of Jose Bautista and misfired on a relay throw to second baseman Robinson Cano on a would-be double play.
Instead, Mitre's throw sailed to the right of the bag and skipped off Cano's glove and into right field, allowing Overbay to score from second base. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a sacrifice fly, and Joe Inglett added a run-scoring triple to push the Jays ahead by two runs. Rzepczynski wasn't able to hold on to that lead, though.
In the home half of the fourth, the work of Toronto's offense was erased when Cano and Jerry Hairston Jr. connected for back-to-back home runs to pull the game into a 4-4 tie. Three batters later, bench coach Brian Butterfield, filling in for Gaston, opted to turn to Camp. The right-hander retired the next two hitters in order to escape further damage.
"It was just a situation where I tried to keep us in the game," Camp said. "I made some good pitches."
Camp, who has been utilized most often as a long reliever, has been making quality pitches for much of the season. The right-hander has quietly fashioned a strong campaign, posting a 2.93 ERA over 38 appearances. Against the Yankees, Camp turned in 2 2/3 innings, giving him a 2.06 ERA in 14 multi-inning outings this year.
Camp has been featuring a sharp slider all season, but he said much of his success is due to his changeup, which has led to an improved performance against left-handed hitters. The lefties he faced on Monday combined to go 1-for-5 against Camp, who entered the game with a .220 opponents' batting average against southpaws.
"Just being able to get lefties out, you've got to have something," said Camp, who had a 4.12 ERA last season. "Lefties have pretty much been my nemesis pretty much my whole career. Getting lefties out, all these teams have great left-handed hitters. I think that's been [the difference]."
After Camp exited the contest, League came in and struck out Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in order in the seventh after allowing a leadoff single. Carlson held New York in check in the eighth and Frasor closed the door in the ninth. It was an impressive showing from a group that -- due to the young rotation -- has been taxed at times this year.
"They did an unbelievable job," Barajas said. "For our guys to go out there and make the quality pitches that they did -- got the ground balls, got the outs that they needed to get -- it was huge. They did an unbelievable job for us. That's what you need. That's what you need your bullpen to do.
"Certain nights, they need to pick up the slack and go out there and pitch more than they're used to doing, and Camper was awesome. So were the rest of the guys."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.