The Yankees squandered a two-run lead to the Blue Jays in the middle innings and lost on a Bo Bichette walk-off home run in the 12th inning against Tyler Lyons. All five Yankee runs scored in the fifth inning, and they were unable to scratch across another run (Box Score).
The Yankees’ lead on the Astros for homefield advantage falls to one game. The magic numbers stay put for now.
Let’s go to the recap
1. A Little Something Extra
After the Yankees and Blue Jays each scored five runs over the first eight innings, the next 3 1/2 innings went pretty quickly. In fact, there was really only one threat to score, and it was the Jays.
In the bottom of the ninth, Aaron Boone turned to Luis Cessa as the long man. He gave up a single to Bichette with one out and then gave up a scorching grounder at Gleyber Torres, but the 22-year-old infielder mishandled it into a single that put runners on the corners for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Luckily, his hard grounder went right at Didi Gregorius on a drawn-in infield, allowing the Bombers to turn two.
The Yankees put a guy on in both the ninth and 10th, but they didn’t advance a runner to second. Meanwhile, the Jays saw a total of 14 pitches in the 10th and 11th.
That all changed with Lyons starting his second inning of work in the 12th, as he gave up the decisive homer to Bichette on a 1-1 hanger over the plate.
2. Five-run Fifth
The Yankees got all of their offense in a six-batter burst to start the fifth inning. Until that point, rookie lefty Anthony Kay held the Yankees at bay. It was a throwback to recent years when it seemed any soft-tossing lefty that the Yankees hadn’t seen before would dominate them. That wasn’t all that true, but a feeling nonetheless.
It was more bloops and dunkers than usual as the Yankees failed to homer. Instead, Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier hit back-to-back bloop doubles to start the frame.
Austin Romine continued with a soft liner single to cut the Jays lead to 3-2 and DJ LeMahieu singled. After a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, Luke Voit hit a slow grounder to Vladito, who threw to second despite no play there.
Jason Adam came in for relief and threw a wild pitch and gave up a two-run single to Gio Urshela. Like that, the Yankees had a 5-3 lead, though they would squander it.
3. Mediocre Tanaka not Sharp Enough
Masahiro Tanaka had his second straight sub-part start as the veteran righty has been able to take his strides from August into September.
Over five innings, Tanaka gave up eight hits, four runs and one homer, striking out six and walking none. It was a pretty typical start for him in 2019; He got progressively worse and allowed more hard contact as hitters saw him a second and third time.
Tanaka had a seven-pitch first inning, striking out Cavan Biggio and Vlad Jr. on three pitches each. As usual when facing the Jays, Tanaka was greeted with a home run by Randal Grichuk when he hung a splitter on the inside half in the second inning.
He didn’t give up another run until the fourth inning, when he probably should have escaped with limited damage. Tanaka had a man on first with two outs when he missed the outside corner on a 2-2 pitch to Reese McGuire. He responded by trying to get him with a backdoor slider that he clobbered to center for an RBI double.
However, on the next play, he got a grounder up the middle. Gleyber Torres made a nice play with the Jeter-style jump throw, but DJ LeMahieu could pick the ball, letting it get by him to score a run (more on that below).
Tanaka would give up another run in the fifth inning against the top of the lineup, allowing a hard double and single to Bo Bichette and then Biggio. Between the fourth and fifth, he allowed four straight balls of at least 100 mph exit velo. The Jays made him sweat in the later innings.
4. The Best of LeMahieu, the Worst of LeMahieu
DJ LeMahieu had himself another two-hit game, keeping his batting average at .325 with two groundball singles. However, he had a trying night in the field.
In the third inning, he failed to pick a ball on a Torres throw that would have completed a double play. An inning later, he again lost a Torres throw that cost Tanaka a run.
Finally, in the seventh inning, he got the first end of a potential double play with 1st and 2nd, no outs, by throwing to second, but he didn’t cover first, much to the chagrin of Adam Ottavino. That helped lead to the tying run for Toronto.
However, in the sixth inning, LeMahieu saved a run by snagging a line drive down the line for a double play to save Tommy Kahnle.
That’s the thing about LeMahieu at first: He has tremendous range from his experience as a Gold Glove middle infielder, yet he doesn’t have the nuance of first base that comes with extensive reps. The struggles with picking the ball were new, but they need to stay away if he’s going to man first in the postseason.
5. Top Relievers Flinch
The Yankees had a chance to get a formulaic win when Tanaka handed a one-run lead to the bullpen. An inning each from the top four relievers and that’s the ballgame.
Things didn’t quite so smoothly. As mentioned in the LeMahieu point, Kahnle nearly gave up an RBI double, but it turned into a line-drive double play, the same thing he got in the eighth inning Thursday.
Ottavino gave up a single and walk to start his outing. The walk was on a pitch that went around the zone to Bichette and he really wanted the call. It was a ball though. He got a fielder’s choice and then balked to tie the game.
You can see that he didn’t come off the mound to make his pickoff, and it cost him. He got through the rest of the inning unscathed.
Meanwhile, Zack Britton continues to dominate. He got two weak grounders and a strikeout. In his 12 pitches, he mixed in five sliders, a season-high, and got two swings and misses, including the strikeout. I’m a big fan of Britton’s slider, ICYMI.
- Reliever Tim Mayza left after walking Didi Gregorius in the 10th inning. He injured his elbow on his last pitch and was in clear distress afterward.
- Speaking of Didi, Gregorius walked three times. That’s a career-high and his first multi-walk game of the year.
- Torres and Voit each had a hit and a walk, while Urshela, Frazier and Brett Gardner each had one hit. Cameron Maybin went 0-for-5 with a caught stealing.
After that extra-inning affair, the Yankees and Blue Jays battle at 3:07 p.m. on Saturday. It’ll be James Paxton (13-6, 3.96 ERA) against Jacob Waguespack (4-4, 4.55) on YES.