DUNEDIN, Fla. — It was another frustrating series that makes one wonder what exactly this team works on during Spring Training? The New York Yankees were all out of sorts against the Toronto Blue Jays, dropping two of three contests in the series. Yes, it’s still early but the pattern with this team has been the same for the past three seasons or so and they need to wake up.
It was the Gerrit Cole and Kyle Higashioka show in Dunedin. While Cole and the Yankee lineup got off to a slow start, New York’s ace settled in, Higashioka notched some timely bombs and the bullpen was flawless again. It all added up to a 3-1 victory.
COLE IN CONTROL
Aside from scuffling in the first frame where the Blue Jays scratched together a couple of hits and scored on a Randal Grichuk ground out. From there, Cole was on point. The fireballing right-hander toiled for six strong innings, struck out eight Blue Jays batters, and finished off his outing by retiring the final 15 he faced.
Speaking of K’s, Cole, with 29, equaled David Cone’s 1997 total for the most by a Yankee starter in the first three starts of a season in franchise history.
CAN YOU HIG IT? WE CAN HIG IT!
You know, most backup catchers will receive around 35-40 starts per season. So, no, I don’t care if Higashioka happens to play those games with Cole as his unofficially official personal catcher, especially if Cole is comfortable and the Higgster hits like this.
In the fifth frame, following a Rougned Odor one-out single to right, Higashioka put the Yankees on top for good. The Yankees backstop cranked a two-run tater to right off an 0-2 Robbie Ray fastball and it was 2-1 New York.
This game was not a Tom Emanski instructional video that gets results. The Yankees’ fielding alignment and hence the fielding, was abysmal. So too was the baserunning. Aside from the eighth inning, it was pretty much a big nothing from the offense, with double plays galore. The umpiring wasn’t great but it wasn’t something that completely derailed the game. Also, I have seen enough from Odor and Jay Bruce. The 7-3 loss was not something for the time capsule.
JAMESON OR JAY-GER BOMBS
Jameson Taillon was brutal, he barely made it out of the second stanza and ultimately lasted 3.2 frames. During that second inning, Taillon allowed a hit to Grichuk, fanned Cavan Biggio, plunked Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whiffed Rowdy Tellez but walked the bases loaded by issuing a free pass to Danny Jansen. Taillon proceeded to yield a two-run single to center by Josh Palacios.
The third inning got even uglier. A ball hit to second by Bo Bichette and ruled a single, should’ve been deemed an error by Odor, deflected off his glove to Gio Urshela, playing shortstop due to a finger injury to Gleyber Torres. Urshela bounced a throw that Bruce couldn’t come up with and Bichette advanced to second base. Tough error ruled on Urshela.
A Vladimir Guerrero Jr. single made it runners at the corners. A Grichuk sac fly to right made it 3-0. Biggio followed with an RBI single to right, increasing Toronto’s advantage to 4-0.
The fourth frame was no better. With two down, Marcus Semien homered to left. Bichette doubled to center and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. A Guerrero Jr. RBI double to center marked the end of Taillon’s evening and posted the Blue Jays to a 5-0 lead.
YANKS PLAY B-I-N-G-UH-OH
After scratching a run across in the seventh inning, it looked like New York had something cooking during the eighth inning. Clint Frazier literally singled off David Phelps and effectively ended his night with an injury. Following a Jordan Romano strikeout of Bruce, DJ LeMahieu cranked a double to left. The ensuing batter Giancarlo Stanton smoked a 120 mph two-run single to center. After Aaron Judge flew out Gary Sanchez coaxed a walk.
Following a pitching change with Julian Merryweather in for Toronto and Aaron Hicks representing the tying run at the plate, Stanton moved to third on a changeup in the dirt but Sanchez hesitated and was caught up between first and second and tagged out to squelch the threat. Unreal.
More frustration in the matinee. It was a 4-3 loss that saw the Yankees receive no length from another starting pitcher. LeMahieu, Stanton, and Frazier on the bench, so that Bruce could bang into a billion rally-killing double plays. Did they get tight in the 86 degree weather? Did they not know they also have a day off on Thursday? Sheesh.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Coming into Wednesday’s action, the Yankees were the only team remaining that hadn’t scored a run in the first frame. That all changed on one swing by Judge, who clobbered a 3-2 cutter from T.J. Zeuch to deep left for the 1-0 edge.
Four frames. That was all Corey Kluber could muster on the matinee. While he did touch 93 mph and was able to miss some bats with his cutter, Kluber was far from impressive. His ledger included four K’s, six hits, two walks, and three runs. An Alejandro Kirk two-run tater to left in the second and solo smash to right-center by Bichtte in the third inning was the extent of the damage.
JUDGE AND URSHELA AND PRAY FOR RAIN
The extent of the Bronx Bombers offense was Judge and Urshela. During the fourth frame, the Yankee right fielder clocked a solo bomb to dead center off Zeuch.