The Blue Jays scored late off Adam Ottavino to hand the Yankees their second straight defeat, 5-4. Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela each went deep as the Bombers worked through a bullpen game.
Here are the takeaways:
1. These bullpen games might be starting to wear on the Yankees
I’m going to expand upon this next week, but the Yankees are running their bullpen thin right now with no better example than this game.
Chad Green worked as the opener and gave the Yankees a scoreless frame before handing the ball to Stephen Tarpley. Tarpley walked three batters in his first inning and narrowly escaped trouble. In all, he walked four and allowed just a single hit.
However, the left-hander handed two guys on to Chance Adams, who made his lone mistake, allowing a hanging breaking ball for Teoscar Hernandez to blast for a three-run homer.
The combination of Green, Tarpley and Adams got the Bombers through just five innings, though they held the Jays to just that three-run shot. That’s serviceable if it’s two pitchers, but three pitchers doing that with a doubleheader on the horizon is concerning.
In theory, the Yankees would just option Adams and Tarpley to call up two fresh arms, however, they don’t have many other options. All of their other 40-man pitching options are on the IL. They’re likely reserving the open spot to use for Jonathan Loaisiga off the IL, though they could use it for one day before DFA’ing whatever arm they recall.
And that’s before you factor that the Yankees need another starter for Monday’s doubleheader. They’re a man short right now in the rotation and there’s no day off for nine more days. This could snowball if they’re not careful or lucky.
2. Ottavino’s walk issues come back to bite him
Often enough, Adam Ottavino will walk a batter or two, but he’ll prevent any runs from scoring by striking batters out and using his wicked stuff. Recently, he’d eschewed bases on balls and produced a 15-game scoreless streak going into the afternoon. Still, his issues with free passes are well documented and perhaps his only flaw as an elite reliever.
The 6-foot-6 reliever would be called upon to protect a 4-3 lead. He’d exit with the Yankees down 5-4.
After getting the first out, Ottavino faced wunderkind Bo Bichette. Bichette worked the count deep to 3-2, fouling off three sliders, and eventually earning a walk on a full count cutter missed away.
Cavan Biggio singled on the next pitch and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took two strikes before fighting off a pitch … just down the right-field line. Going to the stands, it’d be a two-run triple and provide the winning runs for Toronto. Ultimately, the two-seam fastball was located well, but Guerrero Jr. is good at avoiding strikeouts.
None of that might have been a problem without the walk. However, Ottavino, with his 1.73 ERA and sterling debut season in the Bronx, has earned the chance for a blowup.
Finally, he deserves props for striking out two batters with one out and a man on third. He held the game at 5-4, even if it proved fruitless.
3. Just a little offense was almost enough
There wasn’t much going for the Yankees offensively Saturday. Toronto utilized an opener for starter Jacob Waguespack, going with right-hander Wilmer Font. Remember Font? He was with the Rays for a time and tossed back-to-back good starts against the Yankees last July.
Despite being shuffled between three teams this year, Font continues to give the Yankees trouble and worked through two scoreless frames.
Waguespack, meanwhile, generally kept the Yankees off balance for 3.2 IP, but he made two big mistakes.
The first? A 2-1 slider left just enough up for Gary Sanchez to hammer it 111 mph into the seats.
The second, a 0-1 fastball down and in on Gio Urshela, though it caught a little too much of the plate and was against driven out, tying the game at three.
Meanwhile, Mike Tauchman quietly reached base in all four of his plate appearances, drawing walks off Waguespack (the only ones he issued) and one off Derek Law in the ninth. Against lefty Tim Mayza in the seventh, Tauchman lined a one-out double with Mike Ford on first base (after a walk) to set up the Yankees’ go-ahead run. The lead would last all of a half-inning, but it was a brief moment of fun.
- Aaron Judge just missed a home run in the first inning — it went down as a barrel on Statcast — and rebounded to single and draw a walk. The single came ahead of Urshela’s home run.
- DJ LeMahieu had a sacrifice fly to put the Yankees up and went 0-for-4 otherwise, ending the game with a GIDP. Brett Gardner reached base on a single in the eighth and that was that for the Yankees’ offense besides what’s mentioned above.
- Tommy Kahnle struck out the side in the sixth inning to rebound from yesterday’s two-run homer. In fact, one of his strikeouts was against Teoscar Hernandez, who hit that home run.
- Zack Britton struck out two and walked two in the eighth, getting Bichette swinging with two out.
The Yankees aim to salvage a split at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon when Masahiro Tanaka (7-6, 4.93 ERA) faces RHP Trent Thornton (4-7, 5.55). Yankees figure to have Luis Cessa, Aroldis Chapman, Britton and Ottavino available out of the bullpen, as well as perhaps Chad Green. It’ll be 1:07 p.m. on YES.