Umpires ejected relief pitcher Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and Toronto pitching coach as 30,000 fans watched at Yankee Stadium tonight. Oh, I’m sorry, wasn’t this the lede you were expecting? Well, it sure seemed like that was what the referees were looking for.
Undeterred by a two-run deficit in the ninth against the Blue Jays closer to Jordan Romano, the Yankees put on a stunning rally. Aaron Judge murdered a baseball from 450 feet for his first career home run as New York thrashed Toronto Tuesday night in the Bronx with a 6-5 win.
It was not an easy night for Yankees starter Luis Severino. Things looked grim early on, as George Springer opened the game with a full home run over the left-field fence to give the Blue Jays an immediate 1-0 lead. After a Bo Bichette single, Sevy recovered, striking out the next three batters he faced.
Alejandro Kirk opened the second for the Jays with a very generous single on what probably should have been a mistake by Gleyber Torres. Severino then walked Matt Chapman and handed a two-run brace (originally ruled a home run) to Santiago Espinal that gave the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead. Receiver Tyler Heineman then pushed Espinal to third, and while Sevy had Springer taken out, he then walked Bichette.
At this point, Yankees skipper Aaron Boone sensed the game was getting out of reach and began to leave the dugout, but Severino had other ideas.
After Severino fired a ‘Mussina’, the young right-hander showed why his confidence was not misplaced. He moved Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to second to end the threat, put the Jays in order on just nine pitches in third, retired the side in fourth, and flew Springer and Bichette to strike to start the fifth. It was a show of absolute courage, and given that the Yankees don’t have the day off until the 30th, the fact that Severino was able to get into the fifth was significant.
Of course, the offense was doing Sevy a disservice. For the second time in four days, the Yankees didn’t have a hit in the first five innings, as they were absolutely baffled by whatever Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi was doing (much like May 4). That’s not to say Kikuchi was at his best. He struggled to find the strike zone with consistency, as only 54 of his 89 shots were hit. When the Yankees put the bat on the ball, they hit him hard, as average outing velocities for his three pitches were in the 90-95 range. But they didn’t put the bat on the ball much, sniffing 34% of the time and batting seven times. Approaching the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees had only three base runners and had been out in order from two steps to lead the second.
And that’s when pandemonium hit. DJ LeMahieu started the inning with the Yankees’ first hit of the ball game, a double that looked like a home run from the start. The judge then laced a ground ball to the third base line which two-time Platinum Glove winner Matt Chapman caught cleanly but hesitated on the handoff. Anthony Rizzo followed up with a long fly ball into left center field. At 108.2 mph on the start, he traveled 383 feet and had an xBA of 0.990, but here it just moved LeMahieu up to third.
With runners at first and third and one out, the Blue Jays turned to their bullpen, bringing in Yimi Garcia. Giancarlo Stanton immediately made them pay with a big three-run home run down the right field line.
As far as circuits go, this is one of the most confusing. He drilled it at 105.1 mph right off the bat. It sounded like a non-skeptic from the start. In the end, however, he only went 335 feet, making it a home run at Yankee Stadium only. Former PSA writer Ryan Chichester – who now has a verified Twitter account! – sums it up best:
This thing felt like a no-brainer from the start, and kind of became a short porch job.
Baseballs are indeed behaving oddly this season. https://t.co/PXGAXy1AYt
—Ryan Chichester (@ryanchichester1) May 11, 2022
While baseball is a major topic of discussion, that’s a discussion for another article. What mattered here was that the Yankees tied the game on that bizarre home run – and the inning chaos was just beginning.
After getting a first pitching strike on Josh Donaldson, Garcia proceeded to drill the Yankees DH with a 94 mph fastball. As Donaldson walked down the line, the Yankee Stadium faithful rained down derogatory chants and the Yankees bench barked in complaints, with both groups believing it was intentional. After the referees got together, they decided to go with the crowd, giving Garcia the kicker. The Blue Jays, naturally, went absolute ballistic; for a few minutes, the Toronto bench nearly cleared, pitching coach Pete Walker was sent off, and the players dragged Garcia and their manager away from the umpires to keep the situation from escalating.
The delay seemed to deflate the Yankees’ momentum, however, as David Phelps was able to come in and avoid further damage.
Things continued to get spicy with Jonathan Loáisiga on the mound in the top of the seventh. With Springer up first and one on the outside, Loáisiga threw up and joined Bichette. The Blue Jays bench barked and Captain Montoyo was sent off. Then, to make matters worse for the Jays, Bichette went on a 5-4-3 double play late in the set.
After the Yankees failed to capitalize on a walk by Joey Gallo, who was pinching for Kyle Higashioka, Loáisiga walked Guerrero to lead first. Chad Green came in, knocked out Teoscar Hernández, then gave up an RBI brace to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who advanced to third on the home pitch. This one-on-one game allowed him to score on a stolen sack from Kirk. Chapman retired to end the inning, but the damage was done and the Jays had a 5-3 lead.
Tim Mayza and Trevor Richards closed the Yankees lineup in the bottom of the eighth, working around a one-out Stanton single. Even after Wandy Peralta threw a fairly effortless ninth, the game ended, as the Blue Jays turned to closer Romano, who has allowed just three runs so far this year (only two won). True to expectations, Isiah Kiner-Falefa struck. Receiver Jose Trevino, who entered the game in the top of the eighth, worked on balls. LeMahieu didn’t take his bat off his shoulder, walking five pitches and bringing the winning run to the plate with all the threat of ending it.
The judge dug against Romano and fouled on three pitches (including two sliders). Romano then threw what was probably the worst slider he’s thrown all season…and Judge is the last person you want to leave a slider hanging in the zone:
112.5 mph at the start.
31 degree launch angle.
xBA of 1,000.
The polar opposite of a cheap Yankee Stadium shot.
It was just like you would imagine an Aaron Judge home run, which until tonight, only existed in our imaginations.
Peralta is credited with the win, moving to 1-0, while Romano drops to 1-2. With the victory, the Yankees improve their record to 21-8 and still hold the best record in baseball. That said, there’s no rest for the weary as the Yankees can only celebrate Judge’s magnificent outing for so long. They are due back for the first pitch tomorrow afternoon against Toronto at 12:35 p.m. ET, when Jameson Taillon takes on José Berríos. Tune in as the Yankees go for their seventh straight series win!
The score of the box
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