TORONTO - There was no try for R.A Dickey on Monday night. There was only do.
The veteran knuckleballer — and Star Wars fan — pitched eight innings to earn the win as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the New York Yankees 3-1.
May 4 is known as Star Wars Day because of the trademark catchphrase "May the Force be with you" used throughout the iconic franchise's seven feature-length films.
"It's hard for me to think about losing a game on May the Fourth, y'know? Because I'm such a Star Wars rat," said Dickey (1-3). "I was sitting there thinking 'we're due... we're due for a game like this where it turns out in our favour.'"
When asked if he thought the Force — the quasi-mystical telekinesis used by heroes and villains alike in Star Wars — helped him win, Dickey laughed.
"I'm not going to go that far. But I will say it was an enjoyable game to be a part of, for sure," he said after giving up one run on three hits and three walks.
Pinch hitter Russell Martin drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning for Toronto (13-14). Third baseman Josh Donaldson went 2 for 4, scoring once. Brett Cecil earned his second save for the Blue Jays a day after they blew a 6-1 lead to the Cleveland Indians.
"I think that's probably as good as I've seen him in three years," said manager John Gibbons of Dickey. "I don't think he had a strikeout, but he was really good tonight. We definitely needed it after a tough loss yesterday, to bounce back.
"It didn't happen until late in the game but he was as good as I've seen him. A lot of movement. I can't remember any mistakes."
Gibbons and Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos both gave Dickey and the rest of the Blue Jays starting rotating a vote of confidence before the game, saying they believed that Toronto's struggling pitching staff would improve over the course of the season.
Gibbons echoed that sentiment after Dickey's victory.
"Why wouldn't we give them a vote of confidence? We think they're good. We've seen 'em good," said Gibbons. "They're a huge part of the team and we need 'em.
"It's not like they're hanging from trees out there, y'know? They were just going through a tough period. That happens."
Chase Whitley (1-0) struck out six over seven shut-out innings for New York (16-10). He allowed six hits as the Yankees held on to a 1-0 lead for eight innings.
Reliever Chris Martin took the loss after giving up two earned runs in a third of an inning of work. Dellin Betances was charged with a blown save after giving up an unearned run.
Jones drove in Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning for the first run of the game. Beltran had gotten on base with a double to start the inning, then moved to third on Stephen Drew's groundout to first. Jones then grounded out to first, giving Beltran time to cross home for a 1-0 Yankees lead.
Edwin Encarnacion tied the game 1-1 for Toronto in the bottom of the eighth with a one-out double. That plated Donaldson and advanced Jose Bautista to third.
Kevin Pillar then hit an infield fly before Martin hit a single up the third-base line to drive in Bautista. Encarnacion crossed home on an error by Yankees third baseman Chase Headley on the same play to give the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead.
"I thought we had him. It's a do-or-die play," said Headley. "I didn't even know if I had a chance to catch it. When I caught it I just got up and threw it as hard as I could and almost got him."
Martin moved to second on a stolen base before Danny Valencia struck out to end the threat.
Cecil induced an Alex Rodriguez fly out, struck out pinch hitter Chris Young and forced pinch hitter Gregorio Petit to ground out for the save.
Notes: The Blue Jays honoured Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Fanning with a moment of silence before the game. Fanning died on April 25 at age 87. He played for the Chicago Cubs from 1954-57 and managed the Montreal Expos 1981-82 and 1984, becoming a Canadian citizen in 2012.
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