If there was a bright spot in Wednesday night’s big 11-3 loss to Toronto, it was seeing Manny Bañuelos’ success. The former top prospect has struggled throughout his career after battling early injuries, but he was composed and successful against the Jays. Unfortunately, despite playing a lineup full of their starters, the Yankee offense was stifled. They had seven hits to Toronto’s eighteen, and once Bañuelos was pulled, the New York pitchers almost uniformly struggled.
Bañuelos got off to an good start in the first by getting Raimel Tapia to fly out to Joey Gallo in left field, but allowed Bo Bichette to reach first on a soft ground ball that was fielded by Anthony Rizzo. Bañuelos didn’t break quickly enough to cover first base, and Bichette beat him out. Fortunately, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ground into a double play to end any threat. The former top Yankees prospect was even better in the second, striking out Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. before inducing Matt Chapman to pop out to catcher Kyle Higashioka.
Manny Bañuelos, Wicked 86mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/Httxtwl71Z— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 30, 2022
The third saw another Jays threat, but not because of Bañuelos’ pitching — Josh Donaldson committed a throwing error, and then Tapia was just able to beat out a potential double play ball to put runners at the corners. Still, no runs scored. Bañuelos looked quite strong overall in his outing, with two hits allowed and three strikeouts over three innings.
Despite plenty of hard contact including singles from Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees weren’t able to break through against Toronto starter Nick Allgeyer in the first. Allgeyer had a clean second, but he allowed Higashioka to reach first on a throwing error to lead off the third. Then, Higgy’s new hitting guru, Donaldson, absolutely laced a double into the gap to bring him home and give the Yankees the first run.
Judge followed that up with a single that right fielder Hernandez probably could have caught, moving Donaldson to third. Allgeyer was pulled after Rizzo got out on a hard line drive caught by second baseman Cavan Biggio, and was replaced by Trent Thornton. Thornton retired Stanton and DJ LeMahieu to end the scoring there.
JP Sears replaced Bañuelos in the top of the fourth inning. The Yankees’ No. 26 prospect per Baseball America, Sears spent last season in both Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He showed a nice mid-90s fastball, but gave away the lead after a Hernandez single, a Gurriel infield single that was allowed because Gleyber Torres didn’t charge a ball quickly enough, a bloop single by Chapman, and a Biggio sacrifice fly. Sears had two outs, but then Santagio Espinal launched a long home run to make it 4-1 Blue Jays. Sears was pulled without even completing an inning, replaced by Ron Marinaccio.
Marinaccio would only get the one out, then Sears came back out to start the top of the fifth clean after Thornton retired the Yankees in order in the bottom of the fourth. Sears allowed a Guerrero double, and the MVP candidate eventually came around to score on a Gurriel infield single that made it 5-1, Blue Jays. (Gurriel reached on a ball that Donaldson cut in front of Torres to take, which he followed up with a weak throw.)
Yimi García relived Thornton for the Jays in the fifth in his spring and Toronto debut. Donaldson got a hit but was thrown out after oddly trying to turn a single into a double.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the sixth inning for New York. The Yankees are hoping to see a more dominant Chapman in 2022, and his performance here was a mixed bag — two singles and two strikeouts swinging.
After Tayler Saucedo easily retired the Yankees, Ryan Weber came in to pitch for New York. The journeyman reliever struck out three in the inning, but Nathan Lukes got him for a solo home run to stretch Toronto’s lead to five runs.
Saucedo and Anthony Castro combined to strike out the side for the Blue Jays in the seventh. The Yankee’ starters were all pulled by the top of the eighth, and new second baseman Eduardo Torrealba committed a throwing error to allow Toronto’s Tanner Morris to reach second base. Kellin Deglin doubled (still against Weber), and Luis De Los Santos singled to drive in two runs.
The Yanks crept a little closer in the bottom of eighth. Shortstop prospect Max Burt hit a two-run home run off of Castro, his second homer in as many days. But with Weber and Carlos Espinal struggling on the mound, the Blue Jays stretched their lead again in the ninth on a Samad Taylor RBI single, Tanner Morris RBI groundout, and a Kellin Deglan double.
The Yankees went down in order in the ninth to lose, 11-3. Anyway, in just a couple hours, Opening Day will officially be one week away!