It always blows when you lose games early. It especially blows when you lose games early in pennant races and that's exactly what the Yankees did last night. A tough 1st inning, a bunch of missed opportunities, and a comeback that was too little too late cost them the first game of this all-important final series with the Blue Jays and pushed the division deficit back up to 3.5 games.
Adam Warren was the starter and he was working on an 80-85 pitch limit last night, a step up from his previous start. He used a boatload of those pitches up in the bottom of the 1st and gave Toronto all the runs they would need. Ben Revere singled to lead off the inning, Warren hit Josh Donaldson with an 0-1 fastball, and Jose Bautista singled up the middle to score Revere and make it 1-0. 3 batters, no outs, 1 run. One of the worst ways to open the game imagainable. Then Warren threw a wild pitch to advance the runners and Edwin Encarnacion grounded out to score a second run. Justin Smoak followed up with a double to deep right to make it 3-0 Toronto and the damage was done.
Warren got out of the inning and kept Toronto at 3 before reaching his pitch count and exiting with 1 out in the 4th, and Joe had to manage the bullpen differently playing from behind. He used James Pazos, Caleb Cotham, Chasen Shreve, Branden Pinder, and Andrew Bailey to get the final 14 outs and his top bullpen guys not at all. To their credit, that group somehow combined to throw 4.2 innings of 1-run ball, but I'm sure Joe's preference would have been to lean on Wilson-Betances-Miller a little more in the late innings.
The reason he didn't get to do that was those missed opportunities I mentioned earlier. It was a night of that more than anything against David Price and the Blue Jay bullpen. The Yankees loaded the bases in the top of the 3rd on a throwing error, a single, and a walk, and they did that with their 9-1-2 hitters to bring up the heart of the order with 1 out. Alex Rodriguez fought a good 9-pitch battle with Price but struck out on a well-placed fastball for out number 2, and Brian McCann lined out to center.
The Yankees didn't touch Price after that inning. He worked 12 up, 12 down from the 4th through the 7th, only leaving in the 8th because the Yanks took and fouled off enough pitches to drive up his count. Aaron Sanchez came on and immediately got himself into trouble by walking Didi Gregorius. Dustin Ackley singled to send Sanchez packing, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled off new pitcher Brett Cecil to score Didi and put 2 on and nobody out. Cecil then did his best Andrew Miller impression, striking out Brett Gardner looking and A-Rod and Big Mac swinging to murder the rally in cold blood.
Things got interesting for a quick sec in the top of the 9th when Greg Bird blasted a solo home run to center on a Roberto Ozuna first-pitch fastball, but Didi couldn't keep it going and the game was over. 2 runs on the night on a night when your 3-4 hitters came up with the bases loaded multiple times. That's a tough one to swallow.
- McCann just 3-19 in his last 6 games.
- Ellsbury, on the other hand, has a 5-game hit streak going and is 9-20 in his last 5 games.
- Bird has a quiet 6-game hit streak going and has hit 4 homers in that span, going back to back 2 different times. Dude's 23.1% HR rate is bananas.
- Shout out to Bailey for a solid final 2 innings of work. He didn't look great his first few times out of the 'pen this month, so to perform that well against the best offense in baseball is a good sign.
- A-Rod just missed a bloop hit to right the pitch before his strikeout in the 3rd. Ball landed inches on the wrong side of the right field foul line. Who knows how the rest of that inning, and play, plays out if that ball lands fair.
- The called strike 3 to Gardner in the 8th was garbage. It didn't cost the Yanks the game, but it was bad.