TORONTO -- At various times over the past few years, the Yankees have debated how best to describe the hellacious pitch that flies out of Dellin Betances' right hand. He calls it a slurve, while Brian McCann calls it a curveball. Others have tried slider or cutter; MLB's Gameday app prefers knuckle curve.
Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays would just call it filthy. Betances snapped off one of his best in a big spot on Tuesday, freezing the Toronto slugger on a called third strike that ended the seventh inning in the Yankees' 3-2 victory at Rogers Centre.
"That's as good as it can be, I guess," Betances said. "Especially after missing the first couple down and away, I think that was pretty perfect."
Betances struck out three of the four batters he faced on Tuesday, retiring them all in order. He entered in the seventh, taking over for Chasen Shreve with a runner at first and two outs. Josh Donaldson stole second base, and Betances said his intent was to carefully challenge Bautista.
"You don't want to give him a pitch right down the middle," Betances said. "He's a guy that can hurt you with one swing. I'm just trying to make pitches and kind of feel the situation out. I've got first base open. I'm not going to give in easy."
Two offspeed pitches out of the zone put Bautista in a prime hitting count. Betances pumped a 95-mph fastball in for strike one before missing again, then fired a 96-mph fastball that ran the count full. The next 83-mph offering buckled Bautista's knees.
"We know how good Bautista is and how tough he's been on us," manager Joe Girardi said. "We knew Dellin just needed to make his pitches. You can't give in in those situations. Just keep making pitches and see if you can get him out."
As good as the pitch was to Bautista, Betances nearly matched it to end the eighth, freezing Chris Colabello looking at a called third strike.
"I love it. I love coming in in a tight game, facing the heart of the lineup," Betances said. "I enjoy that moment and try to do the best I can."
Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts. In all, the Yanks' bullpen fired four hitless innings in relief of Masahiro Tanaka, with rookie Johnny Barbato picking up his first Major League victory.
"They were tremendous," Chase Headley said. "We're lucky, we get to see that quite a bit from those guys. A couple of new guys coming down there and really throwing the ball well for us. Big win, and once you get back to the big two guys at the end there, you feel pretty good about it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.