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Yankees 4, Blue Jays 7: Bullpen gets Smoaked

The Yankees were four outs from taking three out of four in Toronto. Then they weren’t.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Like yesterday, this game ends with a member of the bullpen taking a loss. Unlike yesterday where the Yankees kept tying the game only to lose in the end, the Yankees had a lead late in this one.

Sonny Gray was not exactly incredible and kept putting runners on, but when he eventually exited the game, he had only allowed one run, the Yankees had a lead, and things looked good. A combination of questionable decision making and poor bullpen performances let the lead slip away over the course of the last couple innings. That changed what potentially could have been a 4-1 win and a series win into a 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays and a series split to open the season.

Early on, both teams traded stranding baserunners until Toronto eventually pushed one across in the second.

After Gray issued a one-out walk to Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar singled him over to second. Gift Ngoepe added another single, and Martin attempted to score from second. A great throw from Aaron Judge nailed Martin at the plate, putting the Yankees one out away from getting out of the inning. However, Devon Travis also singled, scoring Pillar to get Toronto of the board. Gray got a ground out after that, keeping the damage to just one run.

The Yankees immediately answered back in a big way the next inning. After the top of the order struck out for the first two outs in the top of the third, Giancarlo Stanton kept the inning alive by drawing a walk against Marcus Stroman. Didi Gregorius then doubled, scoring Stanton to tie the game. Neil Walker followed that with a single, scoring Gregorius and putting the Yankees ahead. Brandon Drury then capped the inning off with a two-run home run. The Yankees had immediately turned a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead.

Gray went four innings and came back out for the fifth, but was pulled after allowing a lead-off single. He was doing a pretty good job stranding runners when they got on, but he kept putting them on and his pitch count was only going up. He finished with a line of one run on seven hits and three walks, striking out eight. Chad Green came in for him and got three outs, keeping the Yankees up three runs.

The Yankees held that advantage until the seventh inning, when the Blue Jays cut into it. Green went two innings and was replaced by Tommy Kahnle to start the seventh. After walking Josh Donaldson, Kahnle gave up a two-run homer to Justin Smoak, cutting the Yankees led to just a run. Kahnle came back and got the next two outs before being replaced by David Robertson, who finished off the seventh.

An inning later, the lead was totally gone. Robertson came back out for the eighth, and allowed a single to Martin to start the inning. He bounced back by getting the first out, but then gave up a double to Aledmys Diaz. Martin was stopped at third, and Robertson then got a ground out, while still keeping the runners at their bases. Now just one out away from getting out of the inning, the Yankees opted to walk Donaldson to get to Smoak. That turned out to be a not great move. Smoak hit his second home run of the day, brining everyone home with a grand slam. That flipped the score and put Toronto up 7-4.

Aaron Judge singled in the ninth, but that’s as far as any comeback efforts would get. Seung Hwan Oh finished off the Yankees, giving the Blue Jays the win and the split.

There was a lot to be excited about in the season’s opening series, but there was also a lot that was disappointing. At least now we get to see Stanton and the rest of out adult sons come home and play in Yankee Stadium.

Box score.