The Toronto Blue Jays jumped on Jameson Taillon early and the Yankees were unable to get anything going until too late against Hyun Jin Ryu en route to a 7-3 loss Tuesday evening in Dunedin. Taillon’s second start as a Yankee, while not bad enough to be labeled a disaster, nonetheless did little to stabilize the Yankees’ inconsistent rotation in the early going.
After a perfect, eight-pitch first inning, trouble came early and often for Taillon in the second. Randal Grichuk opened the frame with a single up the middle, before advancing to second after Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was hit by a pitch. Grichuk then went to third on a Danny Jansen walk, with strikeouts by Cavan Biggio and Rowdy Tellez sandwiched within. Brooklyn native Josh Palacios then singled to drive in Grichuk and Gurriel, before Marcus Semien popped out to second to end the inning. The damage, however, was already done. What made the inning even worse was the fact that Taillon actually got every single batter of the inning to two strikes; he just wasn’t able to consistently make the put-away pitch.
It only got worse from there, however. Bo Bichette opened the inning with an infield single, and was awarded second on a throwing error by Gio Urshela — an error that an actual first baseman, and not Jay Bruce with a first baseman’s mitt, prevents.
A single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a sacrifice fly by Grichuk brought Bichette around to score. While Taillon was able to work around a Biggio single to get out of the inning without any more damage, again, the damage was done, and the Yankees trailed 3-0.
Taillon looked to rebound in the fourth inning, striking out Jansen and inducing a flyout to Palacios. From there, however, the inning unraveled. Semien sent a 2-2 fastball over the left field fence — just barely, as it had an xBA of .090!
Semien gets the bullpen going pic.twitter.com/hPVE5SwMc4— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 14, 2021
Bichette followed up with a double, reached third on a ball in the dirt, sliding in ahead of the tag by LeMahieu, and ultimately scored on a Guerrero single. Taillon ended the day after 3.2 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits (including one home run), striking out three and walking a batter. At this point, Lucas Luetge came in and induced a pop out to Rougned Odor to end the inning, but — again — the damage was done, and the Yankees trailed, 5-0.
Toronto ace Hyun Jin Ryu, on the other hand, kept Yankees batters off-balance all night. He was sharp and efficient, and although the Yankees complained about a wide strike zone early, it truly wouldn’t have made a difference. Ultimately, his final line speaks for itself: 6.2 innings, one run on four his, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Moreover, Ryu induced a lot of soft contact — he held the Yankees to an xBA of just .141, and the highest exit velocity belonged to Gary Sánchez’s liner to third base in the seventh inning. Thanks to two double plays — increasing the Yankees’ total in this young season, along with a third in the ninth, to a league-leading 14 — he faced the minimum number of batters for the first seventeen batters, facing four batters in an inning for the first time in the sixth inning.
The Yankees only managed to get anything going with one out in the seventh. Sánchez reached on an error by Biggio, made it to third on a double to left field by Aaron Hicks, and ultimately scored on a ground ball to second base by Odor. David Phelps then came in to replace Ryu, and induced a line out to center field by Urshela to end the inning.
The Yankees continued to show life in the eighth, however. Clint Frazier began the inning by lining a 2-1 curveball off the back of Phelps at 106.9 mph, who unfortunately had to come out of the game as a result. The rally, however, continued against Jordan Romano. After Bruce struck out looking, LeMahieu doubled to left field over the head of Gurriel, putting runners on second and third. Stanton then drilled a 120-mph missile right up the middle to score them both and cut the lead in half at 6-3.
Following a Judge fly-out to right field and a Sánchez walk, the Blue Jays were forced to bring in their closer, Julian Merryweather, with Hicks coming to bat as the tying run.
It ended up not mattering, however, as Sánchez got caught in a rundown on a ball that got past Toronto catcher Jansen to end the inning — an all-too-familiar scenario in the early going.
Yankees entered today with 5 baserunning outs (not including pickoffs, caught stealings), tied for 2nd most in MLB.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) April 14, 2021
The whole reason that the Yankees were able to at least attempt a comeback in the latter portion of the game was because the bullpen once again kept the damage from getting worse. Although it would be a stretch to call their performances dominant, Luetge and Luis Cessa combined for 3.1 innings, one run, two hits (one home run), five strikeouts, and one walk. Only rookie Albert Abreu struggled, walking two batters, giving up a run, and all=around having absolutely no idea where the ball was going.
All in all, a frustrating game as the Yankees fall to 5-6, though I must say that I at least applaud the Yankees’ refusal to give up. Tomorrow’s a new day, and with it, another game. Corey Kluber (0-1, 5.68 ERA) gets the ball against Ross Stripling (0-1, 7.56) for a 1:07 EDT start in tomorrow’s rubber game.