McKinney 3 at Yankees 8
After the Yankees finished fete-ing C.C. Sabathia impending retirement, the Blue Jays countered with the latest iteration of their opener experiment. Why exactly a team that’s been on a 90+ loss trajectory feels compelled to implement a strategy that is designed to grind out an extra win or two from the backend of a pitching staff is admittedly beyond me, but nevertheless here we are and there was Wilmer Font to take on the top of the Yankees order.
It didn’t go well. I’m pretty sure I’ve used this metaphor pretty recently, but all Font opened was the opposition floodgates. After a leadoff strikeout, he hung a slider to Aaron Judge that was completely destroyed. Fine, that’s going to happen; Judge is going to do Judge things. But then he walked the next two batters, feel behind 3-1 to Brett Gardner and proceeded to give him a fastball right down the middle which was deposited into the right field bleachers. Five batters into the game, it was 4-0 Yankees, which turned out to be all the margin they’d end up needing.
So Trent Thornton came out for the second, a grave injustice according to BOTSO since he had almost no shot at an almighty pitching win (conversely, even less chance at taking a pitching L). He gave up four runs in five innings, and while it wasn’t anything close to his best outing, he pitched better than that would indicate.
Two of those runs came in his first inning. After an infield single, DJ LeMahieu touched him up for a Yankee Stadium special, a fliner that just cleared the wall in right to make it 6-0. Thornton then set down the next eight in order until LeMahieu came back up in the 5th and squared up a single.
That led to an incredibly stupid outcome. Judge tapped a roller into the hole at short, which Richard Urena got to and made a credible throw to second given the dive. It beat LeMahieu by plenty, and Cavan Biggio’s foot appeared to easily hold the bag as he moved to corrall the throw. But not to Joe West, who ruled him off the bag. The Jays challenged, and multiples angles showed the foot on the bag. But apparently not enough to conclusively establish his foot was on the bag after the ball was in the glove. Utter nonsense, and it cost Thornton and the Jays.
He got ahead 0-2 on the next batter, but spiked a breaking ball to move the runners up, followed by a sac fly. Luke Voit lined a single to cash Judge and make it 8-0. Without the extra runner, it’s certainly only one run and maybe not even that.
Anyway, Thornton finished the inning and a perfect sixth (his third of five innings, which is pretty good) to finish with five hits allowed and three strikeouts with no free passes. Not overpowering, but a serviceable start against a hard hitting lineup. Jason Adam and Buddy Boshers added perfect innings behind him.
Alas the Jays did not go entirely quietly. Billy KcKinney finally got the Jays on the board in the 7th with a two run shot after Brandon Drury led off with a double (the first extra base hits of the afternoon after the Jays failed to strong together anything from seven singles/free passes in the first six innings). He added another in the 9th for...well, not exactly good measure, but you get the idea.
Jays of the Day: Numerically the high man was Urena at just +0.017 WPA, which is I think is the lowest high WPA I recall in a game. But even though they essentially didn’t move the needle, McKinney’s two home runs are worthy of a JoTD even with a -0.027 thanks to...
Blew Jays: Font (-0.291). Dishonourable mention to Justin Smoak with the 0-fer-5 and two whiffs.
Tomorrow, a real humdinger of a series gets underway as the Orioles come to town in a meeting of two teams with a combined 198 losses and who will exit the series averaging more than 100 losses! Chandler Shephard will take the mound against Clay Buchholz in what promises to be an unforgettable matchup at 7:05 PM eastern tomorrow.