The Yankees have swept out the old and welcomed the new, and they received another indication Monday that the future may indeed hold the sort of promise that has been missing most of the season.
Riding a superb pitching performance by the rookie right-hander Chad Green and another booming hit by the newcomer Aaron Judge, the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 1-0, at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees hung on in the ninth inning when third baseman Chase Headley went to his knee to backhand a smash down the line by Edwin Encarnacion, who leads the majors in runs batted in. Headley started a game-ending double play that prevented the tying run coming home from third.
“There’s a lot of excitement to end the game that way,” Headley said.
There seems to be a greater degree of enthusiasm, too, in the Yankees’ dugout with the influx of young, exuberant talent that is contributing in meaningful ways.
The Yankees’ ninth win in 15 games since the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline gave some life to management’s insistence that it had not punted on the season by parting with Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees closed to five and a half games behind first-place Toronto by doing something that has been inordinately difficult for them this season and last: beating the Blue Jays.
The victory was the Yankees’ ninth in their last 29 games against the Blue Jays dating to last season.
This one was largely because of Green, who had been dominant at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with a 1.52 E.R.A. in 16 starts, but had shown only flashes of that form in his four previous call-ups this season. On Monday, Green allowed two hits and no walks and struck out 11 in six innings. He retired the first 13 batters and struck out the final five.
“I caught him a lot in Triple-A, so this is what I’m used to seeing from him,” catcher Gary Sanchez, another recent call-up, said through an interpreter.
When Green encountered his only trouble — Troy Tulowitzki singled and went to third on Darrell Ceciliani’s double with one out in the fifth — he rebounded by striking out Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton Jr. The strikeout of Upton came on a full-count, 94-mile-per-hour fastball on the outside corner — the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Green’s final pitch of the night was a 95-m.p.h., letter-high fastball thrown past Josh Donaldson, the American League’s reigning most valuable player, who threw his bat and helmet down in disgust.
Green said it was helpful to throw to Sanchez, with whom he developed a rapport this season in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And while Green relied on his best pitch, the fastball, he made liberal use of a slider, which he has improved significantly since spring training.
“It was pretty much nonexistent,” Green said of the spring-training pitch. “It was terrible. The strides with that pitch have been huge. I think it was more like a mind-set. I didn’t really change the grip too much. Just being more confident with it was huge.”
While Green’s time with the Yankees has been one of fits and starts, Judge has had an emphatic introduction to the big leagues. He homered in each of his first two games, and he drove in the only run on Monday with a double to the right-center gap off the knuckleballer R. A. Dickey in the fourth inning, bringing in Brian McCann.
Judge also singled, walked and struck out, raising his average to .500. Sanchez singled twice, walked and struck out, lifting his average to .302 since being called up less than two weeks ago.
The Yankees had plenty of chances to increase their lead, but they showed why they entered Monday next-to-last in the majors in hitting with runners in scoring position. They were 2 for 18 in such situations, leaving 14 runners on base and twice ending innings with the bases loaded.
While the Yankees’ youth movement continues in full force, Rodriguez apparently has given up on trying to play again this season. His publicist released a statement Monday saying Rodriguez, whom the Miami Marlins were considering trying to sign, would spend the rest of the season with his friends and family. The statement gave no indication whether Rodriguez might try to return next season.
“I don’t say this in a bad way,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. “But nothing that Alex does should ever surprise us.”