The offensive malaise that too often plagued the Yankees last season resurfaced in last night’s 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays. The Bombers took to the field with renewed vigor tonight, but it was the shots that really led the way. Led by an impressive 4.1 scoreless innings from 2021 hero Nestor Cortes, the Yankees’ arms went zero after zero until the final score was 4-0, New York.
I know it was early, but one could be forgiven for thinking it just wasn’t the Yankees’ night after seeing the string of misfortunes that befell them late in the first. After Josh Donaldson started with an eight-length walk, Aaron Judge smashed a 2-0 midfielder left midfielder, but noted that second-worst left fielder in MLB Lourdes Gurriel Jr. jumped the wall to fly more bases. The play was alarming on two fronts – it was Judge’s second fly ball to die against the wall this season (no, I’m not really worried) and it was yet another defensive play on top of a defense of Toronto which I was told was of poor quality. the glove.
What’s worse is that it wasn’t even the most boring game in the setting. Anthony Rizzo came to the plate and ripped a 1-2 pitch off the wall to the right. However, Donaldson stopped and started around the bases several times before inexplicably running through a stop sign, only to be thrown onto the 10-foot plate. So last season’s mortal enemy of the Yankees – at home – reared its ugly head for the first time in 2022.
Congratulations to the Yankees, they moved on from a disappointing first by continuing to make solid contact with Yusei Kikuchi on his Toronto debut. DJ LeMahieu started with a double line drive at dead center, and after a strikeout from Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks stepped in from the right-at-bat. He stayed on a 2-0 slider on the outside half, hitting an opposite field wall scraper on the short porch to give the Yankees a 2-0 early lead.
It’s amazing how much more balanced Hicks’ right-handed swing is than the left-handed, and the numbers back up the eyesight test. myself) to wonder if it would be better served to abandon the switch approach altogether. Either way, it’s good to see him find his big shot, because the Yankees need a healthy and productive season from their center fielder.
While all of this was going on, Cortes was busy living up to his Nasty nickname. He knocked out Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the first, and Gurriel and Alejandro Kirk in the second, all on fastballs in the area. Bichette, Guerrero and Kirk all crashed, with Cortes seemingly blowing out 93mph heat like it was triple digits. The combination of elite life on his fastball with the unpredictability created by his five-pitch mix allows Cortes’ four-seam player to play against even the best hitters.
The Yankees extended their lead in the fourth with a little help from the Blue Jays defense. LeMahieu and Torres hit a pair of one-out singles, and on a 1-0 pitch against Hicks, catcher Tyler Heineman initially attempted to throw behind the runner, but navigated his pitch into the outfield. The ball rolled to the corner, allowing LeMahieu to score from second. Alas, after Hicks walked, Kyle Higashioka went on a late-inning double play, but the Yankees pushed their lead to 3-0.
Cortes continued to deal in the fifth inning, picking up another strikeout from Gurriel in the fourth, but ran into some trouble giving up a brace to Matt Chapman. At this point, his pitch count stood at 72, which was a perfect match for the leash the Yankees gave their other starters on that first turn through the spin to ease the arms into a heavier workload. after abbreviated spring training. Skipper Aaron Boone called Clay Holmes out of the bullpen, who hit Santiago Espinal and Zack Collins on a pair of dirty sinkers to end the threat.
Cortes held off the mighty Toronto lineup for 4.1 innings, allowing three hits and no walks with five strikeouts.
Holmes picked up where he left off in the sixth, getting Springer, Bichette and Guerrero 1-2-3 on 11 pitches. His five-out effort couldn’t come at a better time, with the Yankees relying so heavily on their bullpen that first week of games.
Miguel Castro followed Holmes’ lead, navigating around a pitching error by Donaldson in the seventh inning to retire the team on 14 pitches. Jonathan Loáisiga encountered a little more stress as he faced the top of the Blue Jays roster in the eighth. After getting two quick outs, Springer and Bichette hit a pair of bloop singles, but Guerrero failed on the very next pitch to block the pair.
New York went for a much-loved insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Donaldson started with another eight-length walk and moved up to third on a bloated double judge on the left field line, just beyond a diving Chapman. After a strikeout from Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton hammered a 116.2 mph left liner for possibly the hardest hit sack fly you will ever see. Torres floated out to end the inning, but the Yankees raced to ninth after extending their lead to 4-0.
Aroldis Chapman came in ninth despite not being a save situation, and for once it was a stress-free experience. He retired a pair and got the final on a magnificent diving hitch by LeMahieu.
After the disappointing shutout loss in last night’s contest, it was nice to see the Yankees return the favor tonight. The bats did just enough, but it was the throw that really shone.
They will be looking to mount one in the series tomorrow night with Gerrit Cole set to face José Berríos. The first launch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT, so be sure to join us in the game feed.
The score of the box