Escobar's big day sends Happ to win over Yanks

Escobar's big day sends Happ to win over Yanks

Escobar's big day sends Happ to win over Yanks
NEW YORK -- It has been a month to forget for the Blue Jays, but on Wednesday in New York, they ensured the final road trip of August would end on a positive note.

After going a full month since its last series win, Toronto was back on the right side of the scoreboard and once again has some positive vibes in the clubhouse for the first time in recent memory.

Shortstop Yunel Escobar led the way with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs, while J.A. Happ battled his way through five innings in an 8-5 victory over the Yankees in front of 46,010 at Yankee Stadium.

"Anything positive that happens to the club is going to be welcomed right now," Escobar said through Jose Bautista, who interpreted the postgame scrum. "Winning a series on the road against the Yankees is something that's definitely positive, and I hope it can bring up the team morale a little bit."

Toronto arrived in New York having not won a series since taking two of three from the Tigers from July 27-29. The club also entered the series finale having lost 22 of its past 28 games while posting a .240 (6-19) winning percentage in August, the third-worst month in club history.

The bad fortune was reversed against the division-leading Yankees. Escobar did most of the damage by tying career highs with four hits and five RBIs in his most productive game of the season.

Escobar's big afternoon at the plate was a welcome change from his recent performance. He entered play hitting just .198 with three extra-base hits and four RBIs in his last 21 games, but matched his extra-base-hit total and exceeded his RBI total in five at-bats against New York.

"I didn't change my approach, it has pretty much been the same all year," said Escobar, who is now hitting .252. "I came out swinging today, and it's part of the game. Sometimes you get more extra-base hits than others."

Most of the production came against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who was making his second start since a brief stint on the disabled list. Sabathia was roughed up for five runs on nine hits while striking out eight in seven innings of work.

That snapped Sabathia's six-game winning streak and also represented his first loss to Toronto since Sept. 9, 2006.

"It's definitely disappointing," Sabathia said. "I feel like this game is all my fault, obviously. I want to go out and do better next time."

Happ got the start for Toronto and narrowly avoided injury three batters into the game. While covering first base on a grounder by Robinson Cano, Happ rolled his right ankle and had to be examined by the club's medical staff at various points during his start.

With the nagging ankle problem, Happ wasn't quite as sharp as he has been in the past two starts. He allowed two runs in the first on an RBI single by Andruw Jones and a fielder's choice RBI off the bat of Curtis Granderson.

Happ encountered more issues in the third after he walked a pair of batters to put runners on first and second with two outs. Toronto's left-hander then got the fly ball he needed to get out of the inning off the bat of Granderson, but left fielder Rajai Davis misjudged the trajectory and had the ball sail over his head for a double.

That allowed a pair of runs to score, but Happ managed to pitch out of trouble during the following two innings. He departed after the fifth having surrendered four runs on four hits while issuing an uncharacteristic five walks, which were two shy of his career high. Happ's record improved to 2-2 with a 5.32 ERA in five starts with the Blue Jays.

The key on Wednesday afternoon was being able to avoid the big inning and keep his team within striking distance.

"I wanted to try to get ahead, but you have to be careful with those guys because they can be aggressive, too," Happ said of escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. "So, trying to get ahead and trying to stay with my strengths.

"But it was big to get out of there, because then we were able to put some runs on the board and keep battling against CC, whose always tough to get anything against. We did a good job of that today."

New York had an opportunity to get back into the game in the eighth. Adeiny Hechavarria had Russell Martin's ground ball bounce off third base and over his head for an RBI double as the lead was cut to one, but right-hander Brandon Lyon then retired the next three batters he faced -- including Derek Jeter in a tough eight-pitch at-bat -- to preserve the lead.

The Blue Jays then broke the game open in the ninth inning. They loaded the bases for Escobar, who came through with a bloop double to right field that bounced off the glove of a diving Jones as two runs came around to score.

With that, Toronto's three-city, nine-game road trip came to an end with a 2-6 mark. The club now returns to Rogers Centre for a seven-game homestand against American League East rivals Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

"When you look back at that first series of the road trip in Detroit, we came away, obviously, having been swept," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "But I thought we played extremely well over there. We pitched well, we played a good series here.

"This was a hard-fought series, regardless of the number of guys that they've got down with injuries. We've got a number of guys, as well. To finish up a road trip having won a series, particularly here in New York, is a good thing."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.