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Yankees 6, Blue Jays 5: Thunderin’ to victory

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A pinch-hit double by Clint Frazier capped off the comeback and ended the Yankees’ losing streak.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

If you looked at the subhead in today’s game thread, you would have seen a Family Guy reference, where Peter Griffin breaks the fourth wall and says, “Here’s the clicker. No one would blame you” when a probably-unpopular character gets the A-plot in an episode. With the hapless Yankees offense going up against the Blue Jays’ ace and the Yankees slumping pitching staff facing the behemoth Toronto offense, many feared that this game would be a disaster for the Yankees.

Although it seemed like this one would follow that path early, the Yankees’ offense mounted a comeback in the later innings, capped off by a big pinch-hit double from Clint Frazier. Combine that with a rebound save from closer Aroldis Chapman, and it was enough to help the Yankees slip past the Blue Jays on Tuesday evening, 6-5.

With the game tied at five in the eighth, Miguel Andújar opened the frame with a single. One out later, the Yankees did a double-substitution, putting in Frazier to pinch-hit for Brett Gardner and Tyler Wade to pinch-run for Andújar. Wade put himself into scoring position with a first-pitch steal, and Frazier ripped a double into the corner down the left-field line that allowed Wade to walk home, capping off the comeback and giving the Yankees a 6-5 lead.

The Yankees needed that comeback thanks to a so-so outing from starter Jordan Montgomery, who has been hit a bit by the regression monster. After walking the first three batters of the ballgame in very non-competitive at-bats (during which time, he threw exactly two pitches in the strike zone per Statcast), the lefty buckled down. He surrendered a sacrifice fly to Teoscar Hernández and a Randal Grichuk popup to Chris Gittens at first, holding the runners. Montgomery then got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to hit a weak trickler back to the mound, escaping the bases-loaded, nobody-out jam with only one run.

Despite surrendering a solo shot to Bo Bichette in the third, Montgomery was largely able to keep the Blue Jays’ offense at bay, with the sole exception of the fourth inning, and poor defense was a major component of that rally. With Joe Panik on first and two out, Santiago Espinal and Marcus Semien each singled to load the bases; the latter occurred on a soft ground ball with an xBA of just .250 that Gleyber Torres failed to barehand and could have conceivably been called an error. A passed ball over the head of Gary Sánchez brought Panik in from third, and Bichette followed with a two-run single. Montgomery then got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on his second strikeout of the game to end the inning, but not before it was 5-2 in favor of the Blue Jays.

Thanks to the Houdini act in the first inning and the defensive miscues in the fourth, Montgomery’s outing simultaneously looks worse than it does and could have been a lot worse. In the end, it all resulted in five runs (four earned) on five hits, with four strikeouts and four walks in 5.1 innings. He limited Toronto batters to a .159 xBA and surrendered only three hard-hit balls — the first-inning sac fly by Hernández, Bichette’s home run, and Espinal’s fourth-inning single.

Although limited to only three runs on five hits in the first six innings, the Yankees kept the pressure on Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ryu all night, posting a .276 xBA off eight hard-hit balls and working four walks in six innings. Additionally, after striking out 12 in his first two starts against the Yankees, he managed to record only three tonight.

Sánchez kicked off the scoring for the Yankees with a monster home run to lead off the second and tie the game at one run apiece:

That ball flew off the bat at 105.3 mph and went 410 feet, according to Statcast.

Two innings later, Gittens got in on the action with his first Major League hit, a 439-foot, 108.5 mph homer that landed nowhere near foul territory. The blast came to rest on the grass outside the stadium, tying the game at two.

The sixth inning saw the Yankees score another run, this time with a more traditional rally. A single by Gio Urshela and a double by Sánchez put runners on first and second with one away. Miguel Andújar then grounded out to second baseman Joe Panik, plating Urshela. Gittens then proceeded to ground out to third to end the frame — robbed of a hit by a slick defensive play by Santiago Espinal — but the Yankees had begun to inch their way back, 5-3.

With Ryu out of the game after six, the Yankees rallied again in the seventh. Following a leadoff home run by Brett Gardner to bring them within one — a wall-scraper with an xBA of just .050 — LeMahieu doubled for his second hit of the day, putting the tying run on second. In typical 2021 Yankees fashion, he proceeded to advance to third on a wild pitch by Anthony Castro during Judge’s at-bat, then scored on another wild pitch by Carl Edwards Jr. to tie the game at five all. Stanton then missed a home run by about a foot in right field, and although the Yankees were unable to capitalize, they had come all the way back and set the stage for Frazier’s eighth-inning heroics.

This comeback was possible in large part due to the efforts of the bullpen, as Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard with 3.2 scoreless innings, despite the fact that they struck out only two while allowing four hits and two walks. Toronto threatened in the eighth, as Britton — appearing in only his second game this season — had no command of his pitches, throwing only 11 strikes in 24 pitches. Fortunately, he managed to get out of it by inducing two weak fly balls off the bats of Espinal and Bichette, stranding the bases loaded. Chapman recovered from his back-to-back losses by throwing a perfect ninth to secure the victory.

Loaisiga earned the win, improving to 6-2, while Tim Mayza fell to 1-1 and Chapman recorded his 13th save of the season. With the W, the Yankees improve to 34-32 and snap their three-game losing streak. The Yankees and Blue Jays are back in action tomorrow at 7:07 pm ET, as Gerrit Cole takes on Ross Stripling.

Box Score