By Kevin Cusmano
Carlos Beltran did his best to channel his inner Pat Kelly Friday night. Beltran, like Kelly years ago, hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run to sink the Toronto Blue Jays, putting the Yankees in the lead late and ultimately back in first place.
The Yankees hit Toronto starter David Price, but couldn't get the big hit when they needed it. Until the eighth inning. Beltran's three-run shot, which came right after Aaron Sanchez replaced Price, capped off a four-run inning. Beltran didn't start against Price, but Yankees manager Joe Giradi saw the perfect opportunity to use him in a clutch spot with first place on the line. And he delivered.
Beltran's blast bailed out Ivan Nova, who didn't have his best stuff, but still gave the Yankees seven strong innings.
The Blue Jays wouldn't make it easy for the Yankees in the ninth, however, getting the tying run to third and the winning run on second against closer Andrew Miller.
But an epic 12-pitch at bat against Troy Tulowitzki that lasted nearly eight minutes ended with a strikeout and the Yankees reclaiming first place.
Yankees fans can now take a deep breath and get ready for what is sure to be an exciting weekend.
The Yankees ended the Blue Jays' 11-game win streak and now are riding a winning streak of their own, with two straight. Most importantly they are back in first place in the AL East, and with the pitching edge going to the Bombers the rest of the weekend, it's lining up to be a good series for the Yankees.
Beltran's second career pinch hit home run was a big one. His only other one also came at the expense of the Blue Jays, 12 years ago.
Beltran knows how to kick off a weekend series. Let's hope the next two games are as much fun.
There's nothing like October baseball in August.