The Toronto Blue Jays are going to be a challenge all season, and this first matchup certainly did not go in New York’s favor. While Jameson Taillon looked sharp and healthy in his first start, the hitters looked helpless against Alek Manoah and most of the relievers who followed him. They only notched four hits on Monday night and never really threatened, losing by a 3-0 score.
Taillon had a solid top of the first, even though he allowed a leadoff single to George Springer. Bo Bichette struck out on a caught foul tip, then Taillon induced the ultra-dangerous Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to hit into a force out before Teoscar Hernández flied out.
Manoah entered his first start of 2022 looking to build off his very promising rookie campaign, which included some fine outings against the Yankees. He got off to as good a start as you can, striking out DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo swinging before Aaron Judge hit a grounder to Bichette. Interestingly, the Jays played four outfielders against Rizzo. The Yankees’ big free agent acquisition is striking fear into opponents’ hearts with his hot start!
Joey Gallo was able to hit a hard single in the second inning to raise his batting average above .100. It was for naught though, as he was stranded after Gleyber Torres lined out and Aaron Hicks struck out swinging to continue his early struggles.
Taillon was even better in the top of the second, getting a quick and clean inning punctuated by getting Matt Chapman to strike out looking. It looked like he would stay in a groove when he started the third was a strikeout of Zack Collins, but Santiago Espinal hit a single before Springer sent a home run to left field to give the Jays a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees finally got some traffic on the bases in their half of the third when Manoah suddenly lost the strike zone and walked Marwin Gonzalez, Rizzo, and Judge. Unfortunately, Giancarlo Stanton grounded out to Bichette, who made a tough running throw to Guerrero Jr. at first to keep New York scoreless.
Manoah’s struggles with control continued when he came back out for the bottom of the fourth, as he put Gallo on with a leadoff walk. But Torres was called out on strikes on what definitely looked like a ball, Hicks popped out to the infield, and Kyle Higashioka flew out to Springer.
The Jays looked like they might extend their lead in the fourth after Hernández kicked things off with a double, but Taillon was able to get the next three outs, including freezing Chapman again to strike him out looking. He then worked around an Espinal single to throw a scoreless fifth inning. Five innings, two runs, and six strikeouts is an excellent line for his first start of the year. It’s unfortunate that the offense couldn’t prop him up.
After Manoah threw a clean fifth — the Yankees only had one hit at this point — Michael King entered for New York. Hernández reached on an infield single and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a long fly ball that Hicks had to go to the wall to catch, but the score remained 2-0.
Manoah came out for the sixth inning as well and struck out Judge looking on a ball that looked clearly low and outside. Stanton hit a weak groundout and Gallo struck out behind him, so the Yankees didn’t exactly show some fight in response.
King got two quick outs to start the seventh, but Espinal singled — his third hit — and Springer struck again, lacing a double into the gap to make it 3-0, Blue Jays.
Springer has all 3 RBI tonight pic.twitter.com/IcqAI5IE45— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 12, 2022
The Yankees must have been glad to see Manoah leave, as he was replaced by Trevor Richards in the bottom of the seventh. Torres immediately greeted him with a single — the team’s second hit. Hicks walked, and then Higashioka hit what looked like could be a single before Hernández made a sliding catch.
Richards was pulled for Adam Cimber, who faced pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson. The former Toronto MVP hit a grounder that looked like it just might get up the middle, but it was snagged by Espinal, who flipped to Bichette to start a very pretty double play. A runner with better speed than Donaldson would have been safe.
King was pulled after giving up two singles in the eighth, replaced by rookie Ron Marinaccio, making his second ever MLB appearance. He stuck out Chapman swinging to end the threat.
Cimber came back out to pitch Toronto’s half of the eighth and hit Rizzo with a pitch with one out. His sidearm-style delivery fooled the Yankees’ big bats, however, as Judge struck out swinging and Stanton popped out to Chapman.
Marinaccio worked around hitting Espinal with a pitch in the ninth, then the Yankees had their last chance against closer Jordan Romero. Gallo started things off with a hard single to right field, but the excitement brewing in Yankee Stadium was immediately extinguished when Torres rapped into a double play on the first pitch of his at-bat. Hicks managed a single, but Higashioka struck out swinging to end the game.
The Yankees will try again tomorrow at 7:05 pm ET, with Nestor Cortes facing Yusei Kikuchi. Let’s hope that they can actually dent home plate this time.