Despite allowing a solo home run to Aaron Hicks to lead off the ball game, J.A Happ settled down and ended up exiting six innings later with a pretty good outing in the books in the Blue Jays' 4-3 loss to the Yankees in Dunedin.
New York starter Bryan Mitchell had a solid outing, striking out four Jays over four innings allowing only one hit, a Justin Smoak double. The Blue Jays bats struck when Anthony Swarzak was brought in, scoring one on back-to-back doubles by David Adams and Josh Thole and another run came in on an Ezequiel Carrera sacrifice fly to give Happ a 2-1 lead going into the sixth inning.
Between the Hicks homer and the sixth, Happ was almost dominating against the mostly right-handed Yankees lineup, at one point retiring 14 Yankees in a row. He worked by inducing the batters to make weak contact on the ground with just a few balls making it into the outfield.
In the sixth, Happ gave up a leadoff ground-rule double on a hard-hit ball to the right field corner and an infield single to Carlos Beltran deep in the hole at short that Andy Burns somehow got to in order to temporarily hold the run from scoring. Happ then engaged a long battle with Alex Rodriguez that ended up with the 40-year-old singling up the middle to score the Yankees' second run. I thought that Happ's day was over after that long at bat, but he was left in the game to get him stretched out a bit. He did eventually make it out of the inning, but another run scored after a wild pitch and fielder's choice.
The Blue Jays tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on another double by Adams and followed by Jio MIer's own two-bagger. Roberto Osuna and Joe Biagini each threw a scoreless inning to take a 3-3 tie into the top of the ninth.
Roberto Osuna was brought in to hold the score but gave up a walk Deibinson Romero leading off a wacky inning, centred around Blue Jays catcher Tony Sanchez. With one out and Romero on first, Osuna threw a ball on a 2-2 pitch and Romero strolled off first base thinking it was ball four. He was a dead duck caught between the bases but Sanchez uncorked a wild throw to first that ended up in right field, allowing Romero to reach second safely.
A groundout brought Romero to third, then the circus really came to town. Sanchez wasn't able to catch what looked to be a strike from Osuna and the ball ricocheted off the mitt into foul territory on the right side. Sanchez ran to corral the ball before it went too far but ended up slipping and kicking it further towards the first base dugout, prompting Romero to run home. Sanchez ran after the ball again and threw it wide to Osuna covering home, allowing Romero to score to give the Yankees their winning run.
The Jays are now 15-4 and are tied with the Nationals atop the Grapefruit League standings with five games to go before two more in Montreal. Toronto last lifted the Grapefruit League Championship Trophy in 2012 and finished a half-game back of the Mets in 2015.