Facing Masahiro Tanaka, the Jays had their hands full Tuesday night. In his brief career as a Yankee, Tanaka owns a 5-2 record against the Blue Jays with a 2.23 ERA. Despite falling down 1-0 in the top of the 2nd inning, the Jays rebounded in the 3rd inning as Jose Bautista doubled home Kevin Pillar and Josh Donaldson to take a 2-1 lead.
The score would stay that way for the majority of the game as starter Aaron Sanchez kept the Yankees hitters at bay. By the end of his night, Sanchez pitched six complete innings allowing one earned run on three hits while walking three and striking out five. Noticeably different for Sanchez was that he elected to employ his off speed pitches early on in comparison to his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays. That seemed to pay off as he kept the Yankees hitters guessing all night despite not having his best command of his off speed arsenal.
His only real misplay of the day, if you could call it that, was a bad decision to attempt to pick-off Brian McCann in the 2nd inning, but threw it into centre-field, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. McCann later scored on Starlin Castro's RBI groundout.
Going into the night, the story with Sanchez was about how he couldn't handle left-handed hitters nearly as well as right-handers. In fact, his slash line against lefties of .282/.390/.488 was far worse than that of his slash against righties at .163/.242/.194 last season. The Yankees had seven left-handed hitters in the lineup Tuesday night and with Sanchez going 3-for-7 against them, making his biggest mistake to McCann in the 6th when he gave up a solo home run. Maybe that means something, but then again maybe it means nothing. With McCann, Sanchez ran into a hitter who's off to a hot start and was really only one (non-fastball) pitch away from making him his sixth strikeout of the evening.
The big takeaway for Sanchez was his off-speed pitches Tuesday evening. While he exhibited strong command of his fastball throughout the night, he was caught finishing late several times with his curveball, bouncing numerous several feet in front of home plate. He inevitably received his second no decision of the season.
Taking over for Sanchez was Brett Cecil who struggled mightily with his command, allowing the first two hitters to reach base to start the 7th inning. Jacoby Ellsbury made the Jays pay with a true Texas Leaguer into left-field, making the score 3-2. After striking out Brett Gardner, Jesse Chavez took over in relief, hoping to hold the Yankees at just a one-run lead. Chavez quietly put out Alex Rodriguez on a soft line out to Ryan Goins before hurling another shutout inning, giving the Jays a chance to claw their way back into the game.
Gavin Floyd had an inning of work to himself and was perfect retiring the Yankees in order. Even his outing though wasn't enough to overcome their 3-2 deficit as the Jays eventually lost.
Offensively, with the exception of Bautista, the Jays were all but absent. Kevin Pillar and Josh Donaldson picked up hits as well but the lack of offence surrounding them was a dominant theme throughout the night. Even with Tanaka struggling with his command early, the Jays failed to capitalize on countless hittable pitches within the strike-zone.
Two areas of particular concern are Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin. Tulowitzki is hitting just .107 this season with Martin hitting even worse at .087. It is worth noting that Martin struggled to start last season hitting just .197/.367/.410 in the months of March and April, so maybe he's just a late bloomer and will pick up shortly. With Tulo, the story is almost tired about his offensive struggles since the day he landed in the 6ix. So far this season, Tulowitzki has 12 strikeouts in 28 at-bats with no end in sight. While I personally think he's going to pick it up at some point, there's no doubt the slow start has some Jays fans concerned.
Look for the Jays to rebound tomorrow night in game two of the series with J.A Happ facing off against Michael Pineda.
Commenter Scorebort: 64 people combined for 2125 comments. DYTH, Eric H, and Belisarius were particularly lively.
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