From the outset, the Yankees’ spring training road finale on Sunday did not lack for action. The Bomber bats came out hitting. Unfortunately, the defense did not cover itself with glory early on, and up-and-comer Luis Gil struggled against the Blue Jays’ potent lineup. The good guys put up a fight, but ultimately came up short in a 7-5 loss.
The Yankees jumped on the Jays early in this one. After former Toronto MVP Josh Donaldson walked to lead off the contest, fellow newcomer Isiah Kiner-Falefa brought the rain. IKF jumped on a high fastball from Jays starter Shaun Anderson. The ball left his bat at 98 mph, and 352 feet later, the ball was over the left-field fence.
That 2-0 lead was not long for this world, however. With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the first, a tragicomedy of errors ensued. Bo Bichette broke from second to steal third. With Donaldson playing deep, there was no one covering third. Gil stepped off the mound and promptly threw the ball into foul territory. Bichette scored easily, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. blew through the stop sign at third base to cross the dish when Yankees catcher Max McDowell couldn’t corral the throw to the plate.
The hits kept coming. Literally. After Teoscar Hernández ripped a double, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. knocked a single into left field to bring the run in. After another single, this time by Raimel Tapia, Gil managed to escape the inning without further damage. But the Jays’ bats were not having trouble putting bat to ball against the young righty. The Yankees’ defense continued its shaky play in the second inning. Toronto third baseman Santiago Espinal lofted a fly ball to center field that Aaron Hicks misjudged, resulting in a double.
After one trip through the Toronto order, the Jays had six hits, albeit two that should have been outs, after Guerrero was mistakenly called safe at first base in top of the first. And while Gil did not walk anyone, he also only managed three swinging strikes through the first nine batters. Gil brought the second inning to close on a positive note though, coming back from a 3-1 count to strike Guerrero out swinging on back-to-back sliders.
Donaldson bailed Gil out somewhat in the top of the third, continuing his strong spring. With McDowell on first after a leadoff single, the Bringer of Rain did just that. Donaldson turned on a cutter from Anderson and lined a two-run moonshot, his third dinger of the spring, to left field to restore the Yankees’ lead at 4-3.
Gil got himself back into trouble in the third inning. After giving up his first walk of the game, he balked the runner to second, then surrendered a single to put runners on the corners. One pitch in the dirt later, and that became runners on second and third. Tapia lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game back up at four apiece.
Matt Chapman then turned on a Gil offering and ripped a ball into the left-center field gap to score their fifth run of the game and end Gil’s outing. His final line: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, and 67 pitches. Clarke Schmidt followed Gil and after whiffing Danny Jansen, retired Espinal to escape the inning with no further damage.
The Yankees retaliated in short order. After a two-out triple by Tim Locastro in the top of the fourth inning, Rob Brantly singled against the shift to bring the game back to parity.
Contributions from up and down the lineup continued to keep the Yankees in the game against Toronto’s “A” lineup. And in the bottom of the inning, Schmidt continued his excellent work, retiring the Jays in order, punctuated by a swinging strikeout of Guerrero.
Things stayed quiet after that until the bottom of the sixth, when George Springer finally touched up Schmidt. Sitting on a fastball with the count 3-1, Springer launched a 113-mph two-run blast to dead center field to retake the lead.
Schmidt came back out for the seventh inning and, helped by a web gem to record the first out, recorded the first two outs of the frame before manager Aaron Boone relieved him. Schmidt’s final line: 4.1 IP, 2H, 2, ER, 1BB, and 5K. Honestly, the young righty pitched better than his line indicates at first glance. Outside of the center-cut fastball that Springer destroyed, Schmidt was basically untouchable.
Although the Yankees were unable to keep up with Toronto’s full roster, there were still things to like from today’s game. New Yankees Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa brought their bats, Miguel Andújar hit the ball hard twice, once for a base hit, and Schmidt looked very good against the Blue Jays’ regulars.
Two more spring training games remain at home before the games matter in the standings. Tune in tomorrow at 1:05 pm EDT for the Yankees’ penultimate game of the spring versus the Phillies.