Boy do I love a good sweep. They made us wait three and a half weeks, but the Yankees pulled off a pivotal divisional sweep of the Blue Jays. This was the most action-packed of the bunch, with highlight reel plays, blunders, and everything in between. Let’s dig in.
The Yankees created some traffic early with an Aaron Judge infield single and a Giancarlo Stanton walk, but couldn’t cash in. Little did we know what kind of circus would follow over the next two half-innings.
Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette led off with a walk and single, creating early trouble for Michael King. The Yankees’ defense (and the Jays baserunners) had some ideas for how to alleviate the pressure. Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit a lazy comebacker to King, who threw to first for the sure out. However, Semien and Bichette strayed too far off their respective bases and were both cut down in rundowns, giving the Yankees their second triple play of the season. This one just your standard 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play as opposed to the 5-4-3 against the White Sox.
We'll order another triple play, please. pic.twitter.com/RG3NDiI4kE— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 17, 2021
The sloppy play continued into the top of the second. Gio Urshela led off with a double and advanced to third on a Brett Gardner infield single. Urshela scored on a Miguel Andújar groundball that Zeuch hucked into center field, though Gardner was thrown out trying to come home on a Tyler Wade dribbler hit right in front of him. DJ LeMahieu walked to load the bases, but the Yankees left them juiced after Judge struck out and Gleyber Torres grounded out. So many breakdowns in fundamentals by both teams, and yet somehow the score was only 1-0.
Thankfully, the Yankees were able to add to their lead in the third. Stanton led off with a single, and Urshela launched a 104.8 mph missile 424 feet out of the park in left to give the Bombers a 3-0 cushion. It was Urshela’s eighth long ball of the year, and the two RBI extend his total to 29.
Don’t mind him… he’s just Gio. pic.twitter.com/jSNrXDbvSz— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 18, 2021
The Blue Jays answered in the bottom half. Santiago Espinal drew a one-out walk and was driven home by a Reese McGuire double roped down the right foul line. Semien singled to put runners on the corners, but King looked like he would escape the inning as he induced a tailor-made double play ball off Bichette’s bat. However, Wade bungled the transfer at second and shanked the throw to first to keep the Jays in the inning. Vlad Jr. grounded out, but not before bad pitching and field squandered the cushion, reducing the lead to 3-2.
Torres was pulled from the game before the fourth, as it appeared he fell after his spike got caught on the double play attempt the prior inning and he jammed his glove hand bracing for impact. An update later revealed he was dealing with lower back stiffness. Rougned Odor came in to play second shifting Wade over to short. DJ and Judge reached on an error and walk in the inning, but were both stranded.
Gleyber Torres left tonight's game with left lower back stiffness. He will have further evaluation tomorrow.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 18, 2021
In the bottom half, Urshela made one of the best plays you will see a third baseman make. He made a backhand stab to his right on a ball down the line, and in one motion jumped, spun, and threw the ball no less that 135 feet on a dime to LeMahieu to end the inning. He just continues to amaze in the field.
Gio’s arm strength is just insane pic.twitter.com/Q70sdTaR7b— Emily Nyman (@EmSheDoesIt) June 18, 2021
King’s night was done after issuing a one-out walk to Espinal in the bottom of the fifth. He wasn’t atrocious, but once again allowed far too many baserunners and only stayed afloat thanks to good defense and horrendous baserunning. The Yankees clearly do not trust him to go more than twice through the lineup, so the combination of giving up hits and a short leash means the bullpen will continue to be taxed every time King starts. His final line: 4.1 innings, five hits, three runs, two walks, and one strikeout on 60 pitches.
Lucas Luetge came on in relief and surrendered a long fly ball to McGuire. It was a ball Andújar absolutely should have caught, but a terrible route and his unease near the wall caused the ball to carom off his glove. Semien drove Espinal in with a ground out to tie it at 3-3.
The defensive blunders for the Yankees continued into the sixth. Chad Green replaced Luetge after a leadoff single by Vladito, who advanced to second on a Sánchez passed ball. Vladdy came around to score on a Grichuk single to give the Blue Jays their first lead of the game. It could have gotten even worse if not for the heroics of the right fielder. Judge robbed Biggio of a two-run home run on a leaping grab that probably only he is capable of in all of MLB.
The Yankees seemed to feed off the energy of that momentum-swinging catch, as they came out swinging in the seventh. Odor led off with a single, and Stanton restored the lead with a laser beam two-run homer to right. It traveled 104 mph, 352 feet in a flash.
Sánchez and Urshela both added singles to knock Castro from the game. Gardner moved both runners over with a sac bunt. Andújar grounded out, and some fear began to creep in that they would fail to capitalize once more. Chris Gittens came in for Wade, and just as I was getting ready to question Boone’s decision not to pinch-hit Frazier, Gittens delivered with a two-run single scorched through the hole on the right. Turns out the skipper knows what he’s doing.
Green and Loaisiga combined for a scoreless bottom half, meaning the Yankees carried their 7-4 lead into the eighth. Both sides went quietly in the penultimate frame to take us to the ninth.
Sánchez led off with a walk, and Urshela looked like he delivered the coup de grâce with his second two-run blast of the night. Unfortunately, replay revealed it as just another loud foul ball. Urshela went on to strikeout, but Gardner and Andújar walked to load the bases for Gittens. He juuuust missed his first big league grand slam, barely getting under a hanging slider. However, it was hit deep enough to score Sánchez and make it 8-4 Yankees. Zack Britton got the final three outs to seal the victory.
It was by no means a clinical win or series, but the bats came through with a combination of the long ball and timely situational hitting while the bullpen held the dangerous Jays offense to one run in 4.1 innings.
The Yankees sure could use the positive momentum from this sweep as they head into a challenging series against the AL West-leading A’s. They face old friend James Kaprielian, while Jameson Taillon makes his 13th start. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET so we hope to see you in the game thread.