Yankees Swept by the Red-Hot Blue Jays

The New York Yankees dropped their third straight series, finally incapacitating their AL East hopes. Following their historic 13-game winning streak, the Yankees are 2-10 and floundering. Here’s how the tumultuous series played out:

Ryu Blanks Yankees 8-0 in Game One

Hyun Jin Ryu and the Blue Jays coasted to an 8-0 win over the Yankees on Labor Day. It was another bleak offensive showing for the Yankees. Held to five singles, the Yankees didn’t move a runner into scoring position after the third inning. The team grounded into two more double plays, including one to end the game, along with combining for 10 strikeouts. Jameson Taillon did all he could to keep his team in the game. The righty tossed another quality start, allowing three runs over a bullpen-saving seven innings. The loss dropped the Yankees’ record in day games this season to 20-31.

Staked to an early lead, Ryu went to work. His pitch mix kept the Yankees’ lineup off-balance, striking out six, scattering three singles with no walks over six innings. The win was his second against the Yankees in four starts this season, lowering his ERA to 1.88 in those contests. Three Blue Jays relievers closed out the game with four more K’s. Teoscar HernándezVladimir Guerrero Jr., and Marcus Semien all homered, with the latter adding a second with a grand slam off mop-up reliever Brooks Kriske in the ninth.

Injury Bug Snatches Gargantuan Victim in 5-1 Loss

The greatest fear of Yankees fans came to fruition in the fourth inning on Tuesday night. Gerrit Cole signaled to the dugout following a Reese McGuire sacrifice fly and, after a brief consultation with Aaron Boone, walked off with the trainer. Diagnosed with left hamstring tightness, it’s unclear whether Cole will make his next scheduled start on Sunday night at Citi Field. Nevertheless, Cole’s injury shrouded the Yankees’ playoff chances well before the final pitch of their 5-1 loss. Now only half a game ahead of the similarly flailing Red Sox, the Yankees will need to find their winning inspiration somewhere else.

Once again, the Yankees offense failed to string together hits. Platoon players Andrew Velazquez and Brett Gardner did their best, combining for 4-7 with the shortstop scoring on Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single in the third. But the offense could only muster two straight hits once on the night. Aaron Judge continued his sobering homestand with another 0-4 game. One could argue affording Judge a day off to reset his bat, as Boone seemed to suggest with Joey Gallo‘s benching for the evening. However, there could be an immense uproar over resting Judge, as was the case with previous rests for hot players like Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sánchez.

Bronx Blues as Yankees Slip to 2nd Wild Card with Loss

It’s difficult to look back on that 13-game win streak as anything other than a fluke. The Yankees are struggling for consistency across the board. Wednesday night’s 6-3 loss to Toronto saw the Yankees fall behind Boston in the Wild Card, with the surging Jays and Mariners only a few games back. Aaron Boone must trade his platitudes for real strategic adjustments with only 23 games to go.

Luis Gil made his first start in pinstripes since August 17th. Though his first three starts were sparkling, his fourth was anything but. Gil escaped the first three innings with his 0.00 ERA intact but walked the bases loaded in the fourth. He exited with one out, totaling seven walks on his ledger. Lucas Luetge relived Gil and allowed all three Blue Jays to score. And while Gardner provided the offense with a jolting, game-tying three-run homer in the 5th, the Jays built a picket fence with runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth to extend their winning streak to seven.

Perhaps Boone did get a few changes right in this game. He moved Gardner to leadoff, dropped DJ LeMahieu to fifth, and reintroduced Gallo at sixth. Gardner provided the entirety of the Yankees offense and Gallo reached safely in three of four plate appearances. But his good intentions were for naught with the bullpen. Clay Holmes allowed the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh, Chad Green let up a sac fly in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman struggled mightily again in the ninth. Clearly lost and without a locked-down role, Chapman grooved a 96mph fastball for Guerrero to put out at 114mph for his 41st homer of the year. Chapman then walked two more batters, throwing 24 pitches while Gallo pondered his existence as captured by the YES Network below.

Blue Jays Win 6-4 to Sweep Away the Yankees

The Yankees lost 6-4 to the Blue Jays, capping a miserable sweep and placing Toronto within 0.5 games of the wild card. It marked the first time since 1908 that the Yankees had been swept in a four-game series without ever holding a lead. The Yankees mustered eight runs on four extra-base hits in the series, with three of them coming on Thursday night.

Rizzo tied the game with a two-run homer in the sixth, while Sánchez and Luke Voit’s back-to-back ninth-inning homers proved mere consolations. But this game was perhaps the most damning example of Boone’s bullpen mismanagement.

Presumptive Yankees ace Nestor Cortes Jr. tossed another quality start. In six innings, Cortes gave up two solo homers while striking out five. However, with the game tied at two in the seventh, recent call-up Sal Romano was summoned. He retired the first two Blue Jays, but allowed the next four to reach, giving Toronto the lead.

It was then that Boone chose to use his most trusted reliever of recent days, Peralta, to close out the seventh. What was most indiscernible was that Peralta then pitched the entire eighth inning, throwing 40 pitches in total, the fourth most in his six-year career. Of course, Boone opted for Andrew Heaney in the ninth down 4-2, only for the much-maligned lefty to allow what would prove to be the winning runs. Clearly lacking the trust in his big-name bullpen arms, Boone seemingly phoned in a must-win game for his squad.

Injury Report and Weekend Ahead

As of Wednesday, it’s unclear whether Cole will make his next scheduled start on Sunday. There’s no talk of an MRI scheduled, so far keeping Cole day-to-day with left hamstring tightness. Cole felt better on Wednesday according to Boone and was “about to jump on the treadmill” prior to the game. He also threw in the outfield before Thursday’s series finale.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Yankees announced Taillon hit the IL with a right ankle tendon injury. Bryan Hoch reported the injury as a “partially torn tendon,” leaving Taillon in a walking boot following a PRP injection. While Taillon’s injury is another haymaker to the Yankees’ postseason hopes, the club remains hopeful that he can return before the season’s end. Zack Britton also underwent Tommy John surgery in addition to his bone chip removal. The UCL surgery potentially ends his Yankees career, as the lefty will be a UFA following the 2022 season.

This weekend, the Yankees face their cross-borough rivals the New York Mets at Citi Field. All three matchups are nationally televised so baseball fans can gawk at New York’s collective brand of baseball in 2021.

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