A struggling Yanks offense found its strokes against a struggling Blue Jays bullpen Tuesday night at Sahlen Field.
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It was apparent early that the Blue Jays were in for a tough night, even with their ace Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound. Ryu, who had lost his previous two starts , never seemed to find his comfort zone over his 6 inning outing. The Blue Jays starter ran up his pitch count to 92, tossing only 58 of them for strikes and walking four. Fortunately Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery experienced location issues of his own and allowed Toronto to build an early lead.
It was New York that scored first. Catcher Gary Sanchez popped the first pitch he saw from Ryu into the left field netting for his ninth dinger of the season-the tenth long ball surrendered by Ryu. Miguel Andujar walked as Ryu could not seem to locate his breaking balls. But he escaped with just the lone run and behind 1-0.
Bo Bichette, serving as the designated hitter, took Montgomery deep first pitch to the opposite field for his 14th home run on the year. Bichette has feasted on Yankee pitching in 2021, coming into the game batting .330 and amassing half his home run total against New York. A third of the way through the game, it was tied 1-1.
Yankees jumped back in front in the 4th when minor league slugger Chris Gittens launched his first Major League home run out of Sahlen Field ad nearly on to the on ramp to Interstate 190. Ryu again could not put his pitches where he wanted to, resulting in a 2-1 New York advantage.
Bichette came to the rescue again in the bottom half of the inning. A Joe Panik walk and back to back singles Santiago Espinal and Marcus Semien loaded the bases. A Montgomery high heater eluded the glove of Sanchez, who was charged with a passed ball and was guilty of allowing Panik to score from third. Bichette slapped a hard ground ball to left, clearing the bases and putting Toronto ahead 5-2.
With one out in the 6th, ex Blue Jay Gio Urshela lined a single to right field. Sanchez, looking to make amends for his fielding miscue, snuck a double just inside the third base bag. The Jays elected to surrender a run for an out when Miguel Andujar grounded to Semien at short and it was 5-3 Toronto.
A tiring Ryu was lifted in the top of the 7th in favor of Anthony Castro, who did his starter no favors by immediately giving up a homer run to the ageless Brett Gardner. D.J. LeMahieu clubbed a double off the base of the wall and advanced to third when Castro bounced a 3rd consecutive breaking pitch in the dirt for a wild pitch. Judge struck out swinging on a slider, but Castro bounced another slider that eluded rookie catcher Riley Adams and allowed LeMahieu to scamper home.
With the score now tied 5-5-, manager Charlie Montoyo called for Carl Edwards, Jr. Giancarlo Stanton nearly but the Yankees ahead when he sent a long fly ball to the warning track in right center. Edwards had to leave the game mid at bat when he experienced left side discomfort after throwing an errant breaking ball. Lefty Tim Mayza replaced Edwards and after issuing a walk enticed a grounder to Espinal to end the rally.
Andujar singled to lead things off in the top of the 8th. Mayza struck out Gittens and once Clint Frazier was announced as a pinch hitter for Gardner, Jordan Romano was called upon by Montoyo to finish the inning. Taylor Wade was inserted as a pinch runner and after timing Romano’s quirky delivery, stole second without a throw. Frazier clubbed a double down the 3rd base line to score Wade and the Yankees went in front to stay 6-5.
The Blue Jays did threaten in the bottom half of the 8th. Zach Britton, making his 2021 debut for New York, walked Joe Panik and surrendered a squib single to center to Adams. Espinal, in the midst of a 3-3 night, sent a ball to the warning track in left-center that was caught by Frazier. Cavan Biggio, who had come in to run for Panik, chose not to tag up on the play. Britton then walked Semien to load the bases for Yankee-killer Bichette. Bichette worked the count full, but flied weakly to right field to end the Blue Jays last rally of the evening. Aroldis Chapman came on to earn his 13th save with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth.
Ross Stripling looks to keep his string of successful outings going Wednesday night when he faces off against Yankee ace Gerritt Cole.
Even though Hyun-Jin Ryu struggled with his command throughout the game, he and rookie catcher Riley Adams did seem to develop a rhythm as the game progressed. Ryu is a challenge to game call for even for a veteran, but Adams showed poise and patience amidst Ryu’s problems around the strike Zone.
Jordan Romano continue to top out at 98 miles per hour on the gun with his fastball and routinely get it over the plate while maintaining velocity in the 95-97 mph range. Tyler Chatwood also regained his velocity, hitting 97 on the gun and finding consistency in the zone.
As was to be expected, the 45% capacity crowd seemed to full of more than 50% Yankee fans. At times it was difficult to tell who the home team was. Though it is understandable since Buffalo is home to a Yankees Radio Network affiliate and their tv broadcasts are available throughout western New York (and have been for years).
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