This one hurts. After building a sizeable lead in the AL East that was 4.5 games going into this series, the Yankees were swept by the hard charging Blue Jays and now their lead is a mere 1.5 games. This weekend was marked by an inability to score by the Yankees, and timely hits by Toronto. A bruising sweep like this makes every game meaningful continuing into the final two months of the season.
The first game showed a pitchers duel between two unlikely candidates. Nathan Eovaldi and R.A Dickey each gave up one run- solo homers- in their outings. Eovaldi left after 6.1 innings and the Yankees used their bridge of Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller to get them through 9 innings.
When the score wasn’t decided in regulation, they turned to Branden Pinder to keep the game deadlocked at 1. Jose Bautista took a 2-strike pitch out of the park for his 25th home run of the year to put the Jays in the lead, and they would eventually win by a margin of 2-1. Their only other run came by way of Josh Donaldson, who hit his 30th homer of the year after a replay review.
The Yankees were stifled by Dickey for 7 innings. Mark Teixeira hit his 30th dinger as well, after the umpires overturned the original call. That was in the second inning, and the Yankees couldn’t score after that point. They managed only 8 hits in the game, 6 off of Dickey, and went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th after giving up the lead.
Once again, the Yankees were stymied by the starter for Toronto. This time, it was perennial All-Star David Price who did the job. He gave up just 3 hits, but was pulled after 7 due to his high pitch count. The only Yankees hits were singles by Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Didi Gregorius. The pinstripes did work 3 walks off of Price, which led to his departure, but couldn’t string together a rally.
Toronto was helped out by a grand slam from Justin Smoak off of Ivan Nova. Nova went 5.1 innings and gave up those 4 runs. It was the first career grand slam for Smoak who provided all the offense that the Jays needed. Newly acquired Troy Tulowitzki hit a solo shot in the 7th, and Russell Martin hit an RBI single to cap off the day against Bryan Mitchell.
Another pitcher’s duel ensued in the final game of the set, with Masahiro Tanaka going against Marco Estrada. Tanaka went 6, but was bit by the longball yet again. This time he gave up 2 solo homers, one to Donaldson in the 1st, and one to Bautista in the 4th. After his departure, however, the Blue Jays could manage only 2 hits the rest of the game. Donaldson and Bautista each had 2 hits in the game for Toronto.
That is all the offense Estrada would need. He pitched into the 7th, struck out 6, and gave up just 3 hits. Those 3 hits would be all the Yankees offense for the game, as Beltran, Chase Headley, and Gregorius each singled. The Yankees were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since 1999, and it helped Toronto pull even closer to them in the standings.
Next weekend is another important series against the Blue Jays, but it’s at home instead of in Toronto. Let’s see who helped (and hurt) this weekend for the Yankees that we can look to for a contribution next weekend.
Offensive MVP: Didi Gregorius- A 4-9 series showed that he is the only one with a pulse in the lineup right now.
Cold Streak: Jacoby Ellsbury– There were many fitting candidates, but his 0-12 popped out the most.
Pitcher of the Series: Nathan Eovaldi- Continuing his string of success in the 2nd half with 6.1 innings of 1-run ball.
Mound Misery: Ivan Nova- He’s been good since his return from surgery, but once in a while he throws in a very pedestrian start like this: 4 runs in 5.1 innings.