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Yankees 9, Blue Jays 1: Offense lights up Toronto bullpen for 11th win in a row

Alek Manoah did his best, but the Yankees took advantage of shaky relief to hand Toronto its first series loss of 2022.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

The Blue Jays had a 1-0 lead. Alek Manoah had been eviscerating the Yankees lineup, retiring 15 straight batters after walking Aaron Hicks on four pitches and allowing a one-out single to Anthony Rizzo in the first. Aaron Judge, who had already struck out twice, was down 0-2 in the count. Hicks, who had just recorded the team’s first hit since the first, was caught attempting to steal second.

But then Judge fouled off two pitches, took three straight nasty sliders to work the count to 3-2, and deposited a 96-mph fastball deep into the Toronto night to tie the game. From that moment, the entire tenor of the night changed, launching the Yankees into a 9-1 victory over the Blue Jays.

It was a thing of beauty, an absolute moonshot that traveled 427 feet right into the arms of a local Blue Jays fan ... who then proceeded to give the ball to a young Yankees fan nearby who was wearing Judge’s signature No. 99. A nice, wholesome moment.

For the first five innings, the story was all about the pitching. The Yankees could get nothing off of Manoah, who allowed just two baserunners while striking out seven; the only hard-hit ball the Yankees had was Rizzo’s first-inning single, which had an exit velocity of 113.3 mph. At the same time, Jameson Taillon worked around a one-out Bo Bichette double in the first and a leadoff double by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the fourth, matching zeroes with Manoah.

The Blue Jays were the first to scratch a run across, however, putting together a mini-rally in the fifth inning. After Zack Collins struck out to lead off the inning, Alejandro Kirk doubled. Taillon then got Santiago Espinal to whiff on an 0-2 slider, and it looked like he would work around an extra-base hit once again. George Springer, however, reached on a catcher’s interference after review. Bichette followed that up with a single that brought Kirk around to score and give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

The Yankees tied the score the following inning, courtesy of the aforementioned Judge tater. While that was Manoah’s only real blemish on the night, Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo took notice of the fact that the Yankees tattooed the ball three times in the inning — Hicks’ single, Judge’s homer, and Rizzo’s lineout were recorded at 98.1, 114.9, and 104.8 mph, respectively — and turned to his bullpen for the seventh inning. That, ultimately, would prove to be his undoing.

Giancarlo Stanton opened the inning with a scorching line drive right at Bichette; at 119.8 mph — the hardest-hit ball of the season in baseball — it ate up Bichette, and while the shortstop was able to recover the ball, the throw pulled Guerrero off the bag. Trusting their first baseman’s instincts, the Blue Jays challenged the call on the field; however, the ruling stood, the E6 remained, and Montoyo lost his challenge. That last part would prove to be massive.

With Stanton on first, Josh Donaldson drove an 0-2 sinker into the left-center field gap, splitting the outfielders and allowing Stanton to come all the way around to score from first; Donaldson himself would cruise into second with a stand-up double.

Torres struck out swinging for the first out, but Marwin Gonzalez bounced a double of his own off the left field wall, bringing home Donaldson and giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on an infield single, which moved Gonzalez to third. Jose Trevino followed that up with a soft groundball to first. The contact play was on, and Guerrero threw the ball home for what should have been an easy play. Rather than getting himself thrown out, Gonzalez opted to get himself caught in a rundown. His plan, clearly, was to stay alive long enough for IKF to advance to third and Trevino to second, and he did that fairly effortlessly.

Eventually, however, Marwin pulled a “Javier Báez” and appeared to sneak past Guerrero and score:

I must emphasize “appears to” in this case, because not only was Gonzalez clearly out of the baseline, Guerrero actually applied the tag, which is why he did not try to throw home. Had the Blue Jays challenged the call, it would have been easily overturned — but because they challenged the E6 earlier and lost, they did not have a challenge to use. As a result, the call stood, and the Yankees took a 4-1 lead.

Hicks followed that up with a single that plated Kiner-Falefa and sent Trevino to third. Judge decided to return to the left-center field gap that had been very good to the Yankees all inning, driving in both Trevino and Hicks to bring the lead up to 7-1. That would be all the Yankees would get, as two of the next three batters fanned to end the inning. But it was more than enough — all told, 11 batters came to the plate, 6 of whom scored.

Wandy Peralta came on in relief of Taillon, tasked with the most important task a pitcher has after a big inning: putting up a zero to keep the opponent’s morale low. And he did just that, thanks in part to a nifty pickoff move that erased a one-out single by Kirk.

Peralta gave up a double to Espinal, but would fan Springer — his third K of the night — to throw another zero up on the scoreboard. Miguel Castro followed that up with a relatively uneventful eighth of his own, allowing just a Guerrero double, and Lucas Luetge put the Jays down in order to secure the 9-1 win.

Everything was clicking for the Yankees today. The pitching staff combined to limit a Toronto lineup that came into the night with a 109 OPS+ and which is stacked with hitters to just one run, striking out seven in the process and not allowing a single free pass. The entire lineup, meanwhile, was clicking, with only Trevino and Gleyber Torres failing to record a hit. Judge’s home run puts him now at nine on the year, tying him with his teammate Rizzo for most in the Majors; it’s also his eighth in the last ten games, a streak akin to his hottest stretches of 2017.

As a bonus, Stanton got in the party himself in the ninth, extending his hitting streak to eight games with a 444-foot two-run homer.

Jameson Taillon gets credited with the win, improving to 2-1 on the year, while Adam Cimber gets the loss. The Yankees have now won eleven straight games, and they will return to action tomorrow looking for their fourth straight sweep. Nestor Cortes gets the start, up against Yusei Kikuchi, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 pm ET.

Box Score