The cliff notes version of tonight's game: it did not start well, did not end well, and the middle wasn't great either. Mat Latos got absolutely shelled in giving up 4 home runs over 4 innings, albeit exacerbated by a couple of Yankee Stadium specials. Non-masochists might be well advised to just stop reading here.
The start had a flicker of promise, with Kevin Pillar hitting a leadoff double. Said promise was promptly extinguished as he was not not advanced and with two out was retired on a pickoff/caught stealing. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Latos was hit hard right of the chute, as Brett Gardner hit a leadoff double and scored on a Matt Holliday double with a bunt single sandwiched in between. Three batters in, it was 1-0 with runners on 2nd/3rd, none out, and the heart of the order up. Latos was extremely lucky not to give up anything else, as Bautista got the ball to home very quickly on a fly out and then the Yankees ran themselves out of the inning on a ground ball home.
The fireworks started in the 2nd innings. Let's run them down:
- Aaron Hicks hit a 354 foot blast two run blast after Aaron Judge walked leading off. 3-0 Yankees.
- Brett Gardner added a 385 foot two run shot three batters later. 5-0 Yankees.
- Judge added a Yankee Stadium solo special in the 3rd, a ball he sort of fought off to the opposite field that carried 337 ft over the wall. 6-0 Yankees.
- Gardner added a 379 ft solo shot in the 4th.
One has to imagine this might have been the last start for Latos, whose stuff simply wasn't there. He came in with a 3.27 ERA in his first two starts, but sitting on the shaky foundation of a 5.45 FIP and 6.69 xFIP. He leaves tonight with a 6.60 ERA and 7.80 FIP. Score one for the advanced metrics.
There were some silver linings on the offensive side. First and foremost, Steve Pearce broke out of this miserable start to 2017 in a big way. In the 5th, he hit his first home run of the year, a 401 ft shot to left that left the bat at 103 MPH to put the Jays on the board. Leading off the 7th, he added a 381 ft shot missile to left centre. For good measure he added a hard double for a 4/4 night (also a single early). Devon Travis had another productive night, with two line drives hit that left the bat over 100 MPH.
In fact, the Jays actually chipped away to get the tying run to the plate. After the second Pearce HR made it 8-3, the Jays loaded the bases with 2 out after Travis and Pillar singles, and a Jose Bautista walked. Dellin was summoned and balked in Travis on a pitch he spiked right down into ground (and maybe should have just been a ball and wild pitch?). Regardless, Russell Martin walked to load the bases down four. But Kendrys Morales hada horrible at-bat, swinging at two bad pitches and then called out on a Yankee strike.
As much as I'd rather not, let's touch on the miserable 7th inning, where the Yankees put the game back out of reach. After two innings from Dominic Leone (the first very good, the second charitably described as serviceable with a run allowed), Jason Grilli was brought into the game. In fairness, it was a lowish leverage situation, but the Jays were making headway and had brought tying run to the plate, so it was (sort of) still a close game. At least until Grilli got involved.
His first pitch was a hanging slider; Starlin Castro mashed it for a double. Didi Gregorius walked, though Grilli got squeezed by the homeplate ump Mike Everitt who had a very questionable, and shall we say one sided strike zone late in the game. Then Judge engaged in a long batle, Grilli couldn't put him away as Judge fouled off pitch after pitch until Grilli hung another slider on his 10th pitch. Judge absolutely crushed a majestic bomb to left field, it was 11-4, and Grilli's night was over.
Aaron Loup finished the game with two pretty messy but ultimately shutout innings, the Jays scored in the 8th with the key hit coming again Steve Pearce (the double), but these ultimately meaningless codas to a long and painful game.
Jays of the Day: No one had the number, but Pearce (+0.046 WPA) certainly deserves one for the 4/5 night.
Suckage: Latos (-0.334) and Grilli (only -0.013 but put the game completely out of reach). Home plate umpire Mike Everitt for a brutal job tonight.
Tomorrow is the rubber match of the series as the Jays will look to take their second straight series with Marcus Stroman taking on CC Sabathia at 7:05 EDT.