The Toronto Blue Jays dropped another one as the New York Yankees take the series opener 3-1
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The Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees started a three game series last night under sunny skies in Dunedin Florida. Robbie Ray made his season debut for the Jays after missing a start due to a bruised elbow suffered in a household accident during spring training. Yankees ace Garrett Cole started for the Evil Empire.
Against DJ LeMahieu leading off the first Ray conducted a clinic on how to set up a hitter by throwing his fastball / slider combo low and inside to LeMahieu, who could not differentiate between the two pitches and struck out looking to start the game. Ray continued to show much improved control by retiring both Stanton and Judge to retire the side in order.
The Blue Jays played small ball in the bottom of the first with Bichette and Guerrero hitting back to singles to right field, with Bichette going first to third on Guerrero’s hit. Vlad took second on a while pitch and Grichuk grounded out to shortstop to bring the runner home from third. That is the type of baseball that the Jays need to play to beat elite pitchers like Garrett Cole when they cannot put mistakes over the outfield fence.
Defensively the Blue Jays turned a pretty 5-4-3 double play to help Ray in the second and other to bail out Dolis in the sixth. Vlad continued to show improved defensive play with a nice snag in the first. Gurriel, who was shading toward the left field line against Tuchman, made a nice play in the corner to catch an opposite filed hit in the third.
Yankee hitters could not get comfortable against Robbie Ray as he effectively used his fastball at about 95 MPH and a slider ranging from 82 to 88 MPH to keep the hitters off balance. While Ray did walk three, his control seemed better than that as he was just missing off the plate inside to the Yankee right handers and often made the adjustment to bring the fastball just a few inches closer to the plate and get a called strike. A mistake with a fastball out over the plate to Kyle Higashioka with a runner on in the fifth opened the scoring for the Bronx Bombers. Higashioka struck again in the seventh against Borucki for a solo shot to make the score 3-1.
Garrett Cole was shaky early but settled down to retire nine in a row after Gurriel worked a walk and Tellez hit one back through the box for a single in the second. Cole pitched masterfully mixing his array of off speed pitches with a high 90’s fastball.
Trent Thornton looked good in the eighth inning striking out LeMahieu and getting Giancarlo Stanton to weakly ground out to third. He retired the first two in the ninth using a nice mix of fastballs, curveballs and cutters. Tim Mayza struck out Brett Gardiner to end the top of the ninth and give the Jays a chance to walk it off in the their half of the inning.
The Blue Jays got a lead off double from Grichuk in the ninth but Aroldis Chapman retired the next three batters to end the mini threat and save the game for the Yankees.
While losing the game is never fun, there were some positives in the game for the Blue Jays. The defence was good, and many of the Jays had great at bats against Cole. Most of all the pitching once again kept the team in the game and fans can be especially encouraged by the fine pitching of Robbie Ray in his season debut. If this team can hold on until George Springer returns to health to bolster the offence their improved pitching and defence should make for a very fun year indeed.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Jason C MacDonald has been a Blue Jays fan since the late 1980’s. His lifelong passion for Baseball and the Blue Jays has recently led him to start writing at JFtC. When not working at his day job or driving his two teenage sons to their sporting events Jason is usually reading, listening, watching or now writing about baseball.