Game 155: NYY vs. TOR — Ending the road with a whimper… and a sliver of hope

Wow, that’s not what you want. Especially when there’s still a postseason up for grabs. But it is what it is. So there you go.

Enough clichés.

The Yankees closed out their final road game sputtering a bit. Jaime Garcia still really hasn’t found his footing as a Yankee, and today’s finale in Toronto was no exception. He threw 60 pitches into the 3rd inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 4 batters. Trouble began when his 2nd pitch became a lead-off solo home run (the 3rd time this particular player has done so this series, by the way).

In the 2nd, a lead-off double stole 3rd and then scored on a sacrifice fly. And then he got into some real trouble in the 3rd. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a double and 2 consecutive walks. That would be it for Garcia. The Yankees weren’t about to take any chances. And things looked good for Holder, immediately get a pop out. But then a solid bases-clearing double (runs charged to Garcia) solidified the Blue Jays growing lead. And then Heller got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

Bryan Mitchell certainly didn’t help in the 4th inning. He gave up a single and a walk to get things started. Then a single scored one run, a wild pitch moved runner to scoring position, and another walk loaded the bases. Another single scored another run. And then things got interesting as a single scored 2 runners, but then another runner got greedy and was thrown out at home. The Blue Jays challenged the play as a violation of the home plate collusion rule, but the call was upheld. Out at home.

Heller came in to close out the inning with a double play and then had a pretty good 5th inning. Sadly, the first good inning of the game today. But the pattern of struggles was broken. Gallegos’ 6th and 7th innings kept the Jays from adding to their big lead. Betances continued that through his scoreless 8th inning.

But it’s not like the Yankees were exactly quiet on their end. They didn’t get a big opportunity until the 4th inning. Headley and Judge worked walks to lead off the inning. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley to get the Yankees on the board. Castro hit into a fielder’s choice that was originally called a double play. The Yankees’ challenged, and Castro was safe a 1st. But 2 outs later, the runners were stranded on the corners.

Aaron Judge led off the 6th inning with a solo home run, his 47th of the season. Two outs later, Ellsbury hit a ground-rule double up the middle, and after walking Frazier, the Blue Jays pulled their starter. The first reliever promptly gave up a double to Greg Bird, which scored Ellsbury. That’s all he got, and the Blue Jays went back to their bullpen.

He got out of the 6th and started the 7th. With 1 out, Headley singled. And then Aaron Judge did it again — another homer, his 48th, his 2nd of the game — a 2-run home run over the left field wall. Suddenly, the Yankees were within striking distance. But then the Jays went to their bullpen again.

And that’s all they’d write in Toronto.

Final score: 9-5 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win series 2-1.

Aaron Judge is just 1 home run shy of the rookie record. In 1987, a young power-hitting Oakland player named Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs in his rookie season. Now, the only AL team Judge hasn’t homered off this season is the Royals, which they play a make-up game tomorrow afternoon back in the Bronx. And wouldn’t that make a really cool story — homering off the Royals (and thus all the AL teams) and tying the rookie record doing so. And if we’re being honest, there’s still 6 more games beyond that for Judge to make that rookie record his.

The Yankees slipped to 5 games behind the Red Sox, reducing the magic number for the Red Sox to clinch the AL East to 3. Yeah, that means the Red Sox need to win just 3 more games or the Yankees need to lose 3 more to hand over the division to the Red Sox. In other words, they need to not play like they did today.

But I believe it can happen. Because… why not? Weirder things have happened. The Yankees were supposed to win in 2004. I mean, they were up 3 games over the Red Sox, and they just needed 1 more game to clinch. And then the Red Sox just took over. Ah, memories all of Yankee Universe would prefer to forget…

But it can happen. I mean, it’s not like they’re not already going to the postseason…

Go Yankees!

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