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Jays lose pitchers’ duel 1-0, settle for series split

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of this series, I asked which Blue Jays starter would have the best outing. Here is what we predicted:

Thornton narrowly edged out Sean Reid-Foley with one extra inning and the same amount of earned runs for the best outing, which 10% of BBB GameThread voters correctly predicted. What we could not have predicted a year ago was that Gio Urshela would put up an Aaron Judge like line in this series, going 6-for-14, with 3 home runs and one walk.

It’s possible Thornton benefitted from Reese McGuire’s excellent defense, as it was the first time McGuire caught for him at the major league level. He got rattled a little later on the game, but worked out of a tight jam. Thornton had a very decent outing in all, retiring the first 12 Yankees in a row with 6 strikeouts. He ended up pitching 6 innings of one-run ball, giving up three hits and only walking one.

The Yankees scored first, which ended up being the only run of the game after three games with a healthy number of runs. Gio Urshela (of course, who else?) had a bloop fly ball double to lead off the 5th that dropped just in front of Teoscar Hernandez after he made a bad read, then Brett Gardner hit a ground rule double to score Urshela. Thornton retired the next three batters to end the inning.

The 6th was neat. It had an ominous start as Thornton issued the first walk of the game with one out in the 6th, then allowed Judge to reach on a soft ground ball, then loaded the bases by hitting Gary Sanchez. However, Urshela did not hit a home run, but instead grounded into a 3-2-3 double play to end the threat.

Sam Gaviglio pitched a clean 7th, and a scoreless 8th and 9th. He gave up a single to Austin Romine, but McGuire through a perfect strike to catch him stealing 2nd. Bo Bichette also made a terrific defensive play to rob LeMahieu of a hit, ending the inning.

Offensively, the Jays could not get anything going against Masahiro Tanaka who almost pitched a 9 inning shutout. Bo Bichette started off the game with a hit, reaching on a ball Urshela bobbled but it went down as an infield single. However, he over-slid second base on a steal attempt and was called out. Justin Smoak technically reached on a DJ LeMahieu error in the 2nd, but I will remember it as the time Justin Smoak hit an infield single because that’s far more fun. After Smoak reached, Tanaka was dominant, retiring the next 17 Blue Jays in a row. Bichette’s single prevented us from the no-hitter narrative, so thanks Bo for that.

Smoak led off the 8th with a single, but the Jays couldn’t pinch run for him because they had only Guerrero and Jansen on the bench. Teoscar Hernandez hit a ground ball to second, but the Yankees only got the one out at second base. Then Derek Fisher, with a prime opportunity to endear himself to the home crowd, grounded into a double play.

Drury greeted Tanaka, who was sent back out for the 9th, with a single. At this point, Aaron Boone brought in Aroldis Chapman to face Vlad Jr (the first time this matchup has happened), who pinch hit for Reese McGuire. It seemed like this matchup was hyped up at the time, and it did not disappoint.

Credit: Baseball Savant

Vlad ended up grounding into a double play, but he battled. He fouled off 100 mph pitches multiple times, hit a fly ball just foul of a home run, and was not outmatched in the slightest.

Bo Bichette worked back from an 0-2 count to a full count, and was rewarded with a single to left field. Sadly, Cavan Biggio struck out to end the hope of a comeback.

Despite the outcome, the Jays gave us a great glimpse of what is hopefully to come in the future today. They’re going to be fun to watch.

Jays of the Day: Trent Thornton (+.185 WPA), Sam Gaviglio (.148), and Smoak had the high number for the hitters at (.089)

Blew Jays: Guerrero (-.290, but that hardly seems fair), Biggio (-.209), Fisher (-.190), and Hernandez (-.145) but the whole lineup deserves one for not being able to advance past first base.

We had 279 comments in the GameThread. Alan F lapped us all for the win.

Up next: The Blue Jays will welcome (?) the Texas Rangers into town for a three game series. The now notorious TBD will face off against Ariel Jurado at 7:07pm ET.