Stripling may have outpitched Cole over the first 6 innings. But a fateful 7th, bad fielding plays, and a misadventure on the base paths sent the Blue Jays to another damaging loss to an AL East rival
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In terms of finding creative ways to lose ballgames, the Blue Jays have been Andy Warhol. Remaining an interesting team to watch, Toronto seemingly goes out of their way to confuse their fans. Wednesday Sahlen Field painted a portrait for those who watched of a team who should be stars that can’t seem to follow the script.
Entering last night’s game, Ross Stripling (2-4) had won 2 of his last 3 starts, posting a solid 2.38 ERA and limiting opponents to a .203 batting average. On Wednesday, Stripling outdid himself over the first 6 innings, allowing only 1 hit to the vaunted Yankee lineup and clearly outdueling their ace Gerrit Cole (8-3). But the defense behind him (namely Joe Panik) set him up to take a tough loss.
Toronto entered the night behind only Boston for most infield errors committed by American League infields. They tied the Red Sox in this category in the top of the first inning when Panik bounced a throw on a routine DJ LeMahieu grounder to third. Aaron Judge ripped a single to left on a 3-0 count before Stripling walked Gleyber Torres to load the bases with no outs. Giancarlo Stanton lofted a sacrifice fly to Cavan Biggio in right, plating LeMahieu. Gio Urshela hit another sac fly to right, advancing Judge to third. But Stripling got Miguel Andujar to fly out to left, wiggling out of a scary start to the inning trailing only 1-0.
In the bottom half of the first, Marcus Semien spun a Cole four seamer high over the left field wall for his 16th home run of the year (his 10th career leadoff homer) to even the score at 1-1. Bo Bichette followed with a single, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. bounced into a 5-4-3 double play. Teoscar Hernandez did single up the middle, but Randall Grichuk could not keep the inning alive.
Cole cruised over the next 3 innings, retiring 8 Blue Jays hitters in a row until Cavan Biggio continued his resurgence since being activated from the IL by pasting an opposite field home run to put the Jays ahead.
Stripling was even better, not allowing another Yankees hit until the top of the 7th. .Torres singled to lead the inning off. Gary Sanchez was called upon to bat for Cole’s personal catcher Kyle Higashioka and unloaded on a Stripling pitch left over the plate that put the Yankees ahead to stay 3-2. One batter later, manager Charlie Montoyo brought in Rafael Dolis, who bounced his first first pitches in the dirt to walk LeMahieu. he was immediately lifted when Toronto trainers confirmed Dolis had injured himself during the at bat. Trent Thornton came in to strike out Aaron Judge, but the momentum had turned against the Jays.
Cole came out to pitch the 8th, and after 102 pitches gave way to Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Things got interesting quickly when Guerrero fought off a Chapman curveball to bloop a single to right. Hernandez flicked a two seamer the opposite way and the Blue Jays had the first two batters on base. Grichuk saw a series of 100+MPH pitches from the Yankee closer and struck out swinging.
Montoyo chose to send Santiago Espinal up to try and solve Chapman. Espinal tapped back to the mound, Chapman threw to the plate to prevent Guerrero from scoring. But the Blue Jays MVP wandered too far down the line and was picked off third by a Sanchez throw down to the bag. Montoyo asked for a video review, but the out call was upheld. It was not the final out, but the baserunning blunder was the last nail in the Toronto coffin for the evening.
MESSAGES FROM THE OTHER SIDE
It is often a painful exercise for non-Yankee fans to listen to the YES Network and WFAN Radio broadcasts. But radio analyst Susan Waldman seemed genuinely impressed by the Toronto lineup. “I know the Astros and Red Sox can really hit. But have we seen a better lineup 1-9 than the Blue Jays? Even with getting no production from their catchers, Toronto is scary and can really hit in all situations.”
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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