The Yankees suffered a loss in the game after clinching the division, blowing another late lead to the Blue Jays in a 4-3 loss. Tommy Kahnle gave up the decisive home run while Aaron Judge and Tyler Wade went deep for New York (Box Score). Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres left early with a potential injury.
To the recap!
Kahnle coughs it up
The Yankees held a narrow 3-2 lead on the Blue Jays in the seventh inning after J.A. Happ and Adam Ottavino combined for six strong innings. Kahnle, however, couldn’t hold the lead.
The right-hander got a strikeout before walking a batter and brining up Justin Smoak. Though Smoak has been struggling this month, that didn’t stop him from planting a fastball down Broadway beyond the Yankees’ bullpen.
Kahnle recovered for two more strikeouts, but the damage was done. The Yankees’ bullpen has held up against just about every challenge except the Jays this year. Of the Yankees’ eight losses to Toronto this year, six have come with the bullpen inheriting either a tie game or a lead.
Yankees’ rallies fall short
Despite trailing down to their final few outs, the Yankees had a chance to tie or take the lead late.
Cameron Maybin pinch hit in the eighth inning for Wade and singled off Derek Law. The Bombers tried to put something in motion with DJ LeMahieu up and a 3-2 count in a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. Judge doubled the next at-bat, giving you a great what-if, but the inning continued. After a walk, Gio Urshela grounded out in his only at-bat.
In the ninth inning, Joe West came into play in a big way. He gave Ken Giles a strike each on Luke Voit and Brett Gardner that led to both hitters making outs. Gardner’s ball was in the other batter’s box and would have resulted in a walk. Instead, it was a 3-2 count and Gardy flew out. Mike Ford struck out to end things.
Aaron Judge and Tyler Wade: Bash Brothers
For the first three innings Friday, the Yankees looked like a team that had just celebrated a division title. Aaron Judge walked in the first inning, but Jacob Waguespack retired the rest of the order with relative ease.
But Waguespack’s luck turned the second time through the order when he tried to beat Judge inside.
Judge’s homer tied the game at one and was his first to the pull side at Yankee Stadium all season. He hit it over 105 mph, which is pretty normal for him. Between that and his walk, he looked pretty darn healthy at the plate after sitting Thursday.
However, with the Yankees again down by a run an inning later, an unexpected hero emerged. I mean, do you really expect Wade to hit a towering home run?
Wade has found his groove this month, just as he did at the end of last season. The utilityman could earn himself a postseason roster spot with improved hitting to go with his versatility and pinch running capabilities.
2018 Happ rides again
J.A. Happ has been a different pitcher in the last month of the season, looking more like the adequate pitcher who helped the Yankees at the end of 2018 rather than the helpless starter of the first half.
On Friday, he allowed just two runs over 5 1/3 innings, keeping hard contact in the ballpark and holding the Jays to just four hits. He struck out four and walked zero. The southpaw showed no ill-effects from his biceps tendonitis.
As one would expect, both of Happ’s runs came in the second time through the order. Cavan Biggio hit a double off the right-center field wall and scored on a weak grounder up the middle where Gleyber Torres came up in pain (more on that below). An inning later, after Judge’s homer, he gave up a solo homer of his own to Danny Jansen.
Happ leads the Yankees with 34 home runs allowed this year, but he’s held opponents to just five in his last 36 1/3 innings over seven starts. That evens out to a more respectable 1.24 homers per nine, which is better than league average. He’s allowed just three in his last five starts.
Aaron Boone allowed him to start the sixth and get Cavan Biggio swinging for a strikeout before removing him before the middle of the order.
Gleyber Torres’ injury scare
In the fourth inning, Torres slipped on a ball up the middle and went down in pain on the outfield grass. The play looked scary, though Torres remained in the game for three more innings and his next two at-bats.
Torres, however, was removed before the top of the seventh inning. For the latest on his injury, check out this updating post.
After they tagged Waguespack for three runs, the Bombers came up empty against the Jays bullpen. On the whole, outside of their two homers, they mustered just four more hits. One was an infield single for Brett Gardner that could have been an error. The others were a line-drive double off the right-field wall by LeMahieu, Maybin’s pinch-hit single and Judge’s double.
LeMahieu went 1-for-4 and is batting .328, eight points behind Tim Anderson for the AL batting title.
Bullpen Matches Up
While Kahnle gave up a two-run homer, the rest of the bullpen looked sharp Friday. Adam Ottavino relieved Happ and got two strikeouts with his best movement in weeks. His slider and two-seamer were incredibly crisp.
Boone went with Cory Gearrin as a righty-specialist to start the eighth, but the Jays pinch hit lefty Rowdy Tellez. No worries, Gearrin got an easy grounder. From there, Tyler Lyons struck out Biggio and Ben Heller came in to get Lourdes Gurriel Jr. before working his way through the ninth inning.
Boone doesn’t often go with LOOGYs or ROOGYs, in part because the Yankees don’t often employ them. We’re a long way from the days of Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada. With September rosters and 2020’s rules not in effect, he was able to matchup to the fullest extent.
Clint Frazier Struggles in Right
Frazier played right field tonight with Judge DH’ing. In the second inning, Teoscar Hernandez hit a high fly ball to the right field wall, one that hung long enough for a fielder to make the catch.
However, Frazier drifted to the wall and misplayed it into a triple. It was ugly.
While he make a nice play on a double later in the game, he didn’t look comfortable in the field. Whether it’s post-concussions fear of the wall, his inexperience in right field or something else, he’s a liability in the field.
Rest of the League
As of publishing, the Astros lead the Angels, 6-4, and the Twins are up on the Royals, 4-1. The Yankees trail Houston for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs while they’re ahead of Minnesota by five games (plus the tiebreak) for homefield in the first round.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ victory eliminated the Red Sox from playoff contention.
The Yankees resume their series Saturday with James Paxton (14-6, 3.88 ERA) starting against rookie T.J. Zeuch (1-0, 4.61). That game will be on YES and WFAN.