The New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Saturday, claiming their first victory of 2021. Yankees offseason acquisition Corey Kluber faced off against Ross Stripling for the Blue Jays. The Yankees offense showed improvements from opening day and the bullpen locked down a tight game.
Kluber’s First Start as a Yankee
In Corey Kluber’s Yankee debut, he went 4 innings and gave up 2 runs. The only earned run came off the bat of Marcus Semein, who hit a home run to lead off the 5th inning. Kluber’s day was over immediately after that.
His breaking pitches were sharp, guiding him to 5 strikeouts on the day. While the slider looked unhittable, fastball command seemed to be an issue, contributing to the 3 walks he allowed. This got him into trouble in the 3rd and 4th innings, but both times he got out of it relatively unscathed. His fastball velocity hovered from 89 to 91 MPH. It will be interesting to see if he is able to build up his velocity as the season progresses, or if his days of throwing 93-95 MPH are over.
Overall it was an encouraging outing for Kluber. The Yankees would love to get more length out of him going forward, but Boone understandably didn’t want to push him so early in the season. The slider and cutter looked devastating, but his fastball command will need to improve before we can proclaim that Kluber is back to vintage form. Most importantly though, he seems fully healthy.
Yankee Bats get the Job Done
In the 4th, Gary Sanchez hit a rocket line drive to left off of Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling. That made the score 2-1 and the Yankees would not give up the lead for the rest of the game. Sanchez continues his hot start, now having hit a home run in each of the Yankee’s first two games. Hopefully Sanchez has put 2020 behind him and plays at the elite level that everyone knows he is capable of.
On his birthday, Jay Bruce contributed with a clutch, 2 out, 2 RBI single in the 6th. That would end up being the difference in the game as the Yankees won by 2.
The Yankees had a much better 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position in this game than the horrendous 0-for-9 they went on opening day. On the negative side, Giancarlo Stanton continues to get booed and Aaron Hicks had another 3 strikeout game. You have to wonder at what point “splitting up the righties” is not worth putting Hicks in the 3 hole if he continues to struggle.
Bullpen Continues to Shine
First to come out of the pen for the Yanks was Jonathan Loaisiga. He pitched a scoreless 5th after the HR given up by Kluber and then continued with a scoreless 6th. Loaisiga’s changeup was particularly filthy as he recorded 3 strikeouts in his 2 innings of work.
Lucas Luetge pitched the 7th and it was the lefty’s first major league appearance since 2015. He gave up a run but also recorded a strikeout. It was surely a great moment for him to finally get on a major league mound again.
Darren O’day got two outs in the 8th and Chad Green came in for the four out save. Green recorded 2 strikeouts as he locked down the Yankees first win. The entire bullpen continues to look great so far.
Yankees pitching has been impressive thus far in the season; they have only given up 3 runs in each of their first two games. While the offense did just enough to win this one, they are still waiting for some of their stars to find their stroke. I wouldn’t be too worried though: as the weather heats up, so will the bats. All in all, it was a great win over a division rival, and there are many positive signs going forward.