The Blue Jays figure to be a key antagonist to the Yankees for the 2022 season. Toronto had a busy offseason, and has the look of a division favorite. The Yankees had a quieter winter, and risk becoming also-rans to the upstarts up north. Nothing these two did today would matter much, but it was the the first matchup between the two rivals, and we did get to see what was pretty close to Toronto’s best lineup take the field. The discrepancy in quality between the Blue Jays’ regulars the patchwork Yankee squad that traveled to Dunedin was evident from the jump, and the Jays cruised to an easy victory.
That Blue Jay lineup did look terrifying, in particular, their vaunted top three: George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. That trio wasted no time putting a hurt on starter Jordan Montomgery, with each ripping a hard-hit single in the first to push a run across. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. broke the streak of singles by instead driving a double to the right-field wall. The Jays’ A-Teamers simply put Montgomery through his paces, grinding out at-bats like it was the middle of August rather than March, spitting on pitches just off the plate and looking for something to drive.
Toronto didn’t hit into an out until Matt Chapman smacked a screamer to left, one that was corralled by Ender Inciarte for a sac fly. That initially forced Montgomery from the game after just 0.1 innings and with the score at 3-0. Of course, this is spring training, so Aaron Boone was allowed to remove his starter from a sticky situation in the first and re-insert him in the second. Montgomery managed a pair of outs in the second, finishing with one inning pitched, six hits, three runs, and one strikeout. Not the debut the lefty was looking for, but also not something to freak out about at this early juncture.
The Yankees waited until the fourth to strike back. Down 4-0, Gleyber Torres lined a single to right. Ender Inciarte laced a double past Randal Grichuk, and Torres came around on a groundout from Miguel Andújar. Torres had some good swings on the afternoon, a tiny positive sign for those looking for hope that 2022 will be a bounce back year for the infielder.
Vinny Nittoli allowed a run in relief of Montgomery, and Ron Marinaccio, the Yankees’ number-28 prospect per MLB Pipeline, came on for the fourth. Once again, the Jays’ top of the order came up, and once again it brought the heat, with all three of Springer, Bichette, and Guerrero Jr. reaching base in succession to push the Toronto lead back to 5-1. A Cavan Biggio walk later, and Grichuk broke the game wide open with a grand slam to right:
Having a GRAND time today! HBU? pic.twitter.com/chLeVdHqiv— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 22, 2022
Anthony Rizzo, for his part one of the two likely starters having made the trip, roped a double with one out in the sixth. Torres followed with another solid base hit, scoring pinch-runner Eric Wagaman. Torres and Rizzo each played well, a silver lining on a day short of positives for the Yankees.
Right-hander Matt Krook relieved Marinaccio and stabilized things, tossing an impressive three shutout innings, striking out five while allowing just one baserunner. 2021 minor league breakout Randy Vazquez followed Krook with a scoreless eighth, but the Yankees’ backups’ backups were unable to launch a comeback as the staff finally started putting up some zeroes, and the game ended at a score of 9-2.
Surely, the Yankees will hope this game isn’t representative of how their matchup with Toronto will go this season. The Yankees hardly sent any regulars to Dunedin, and followed Montgomery with a long line of bit relievers and Double-A arms. Still, it was a bit unsightly to see the Jays’ starters rough up the Bombers so thoroughly.
The Yankees will return to more friendly territory tomorrow, as they’ll host the Orioles, a less formidable divisional foe, back in Tampa. Deivi García is slated to start, and first pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm EST.