It’s tough to watch the perfect 162-0 season slip away. The Yankees came into the third game of four in Toronto, looking to take their first series win, but ended up finding their first loss of the season.
The game got off to a dicey start, early. In the bottom of the 1st, Billy McKinney—chasing down a deep Josh Donaldson drive to left center—crashed head-first into the plexiglass screen that stands where a paddled wall should be. He was visibly shaken but was able to talk his way into staying in the game. On the next play, Justin Smoak lined a single to McKinney that drove in Donaldson for the first run of the game. Aaron Boone pulled McKinney who looked to be in pain while fielding the RBI single.
Though X-rays were negative and the preliminary diagnosis is a left shoulder sprain, losing another outfielder this early in the season is troubling. McKinney joins Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clint Frazier in the Yankees growing infirmary. Luckily, their depth allows the Yanks to still field Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Brett Gardner, but the suddenly thin outfield is something that they’ll have to manage carefully.
The middle innings of the game hummed along as CC Sabathia and Marco Estrada went to work. Sabathia was a little shaky in the early innings, missing spots and getting hit around, but was able to level out and limit the damage. All-in-all it was a good outing for the veteran, allowing just two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks through five innings.
Sabathia’s biggest win of the day was convincing Boone and Angry Uncle Larry Rothschild to let him finish out the 5th, getting Yangervis Solarte to ground into an inning-ending double play in a tight spot. Solarte was able to turn it around, hitting a monster 455 foot home run off of Dellin Betances in the 8th to put the Blue Jays ahead. It was a lead they would keep.
The mighty Bronx Bomber offense was stagnant throughout the game, but Tyler Austin kept the hope alive. The original Baby Bomber mashed a pair of monster home runs: a 432 foot blast in the 5th and a 421 foot line drive in the 7th.
Tyler Austin, non si può stoparlo— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 31, 2018
Both home runs were no-doubters that brought life into the team. It was encouraging to see such production from Austin, especially when the heavy hitters on the team were silent.
In the end, it all came down to Betances. His struggles from 2017 seem to have followed him to 2018 as he surrendered two runs in the 8th to give away the game. After Solarte’s massive home run, Kevin Pillar knocked in a single before stealing second, third, and eventually home to put the Blue Jay’s up 5-3. Pillar’s pesky (albeit impressive) speed was a nuisance on the bases and also in the outfield, where he was able to track down a lot of balls that could have easily fallen in for extra base hits.
It was a frustrating game, especially with the injuries to McKinney and Adam Warren who took a comebacker off the leg in the 6th and was taken out. For what should have been the easiest job in America, Aaron Boone sure has his hands full three games into the season. He’ll have to make some tough decisions in the coming days to put and keep a healthy team on the field.
So, the Yanks took a loss today, but there’s no shame in a 161-1 season. Sonny Gray will be handed the ball tomorrow as they play the fourth and final game of the opening series in Toronto. The game is scheduled for a 1:07 PM EST start on YES. Just in time to finish up the Easter egg hunt.