Thursday, April 15, 2021

Yankees Drop Dunedin Finale to Blue Jays

In the old days, up until 1960, when a season was 154 games long, and the Yankees spent their Spring Training in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 15 was around the time they had finished their northward trek back to New York to begin the regular season, and any games played before that weren't counted.

If only that were true this season. This time, the Yankees will be glad to get out of the Tampa Bay area, and away from the again-temporarily-relocated, permanently-pesky Toronto Blue Jays.

Yesterday afternoon, in the conclusion of a 3-game series at tiny TD Ballpark in Dunedin, on the St. Petersburg side of the Bay, the much-ballyhooed, injury-recovering Corey Kluber started. It would be unfair to say he had nothing. It would be fairer to say he pitched to extremes: His good pitches were insanely good, but there weren't nearly enough of them. He went 4 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts.

Until there were 2 out in the top of the 4th, the Yankees' only runs were on a pair of solo home runs by Aaron Judge. The 2nd, leading off the 4th, was followed by a walk by Brett Gardner, a flyout by Gary Sanchez, a double by Gleyber Torres, a strikeout by Jay Bruce (who is now bearing the brunt of online Yankee Fan frustration), and an RBI single by Gio Urshela. That gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

Jonathan Loaisiga came out to pitch the bottom of the 5th. He got the 1st 2 outs, before Cavan Biggio, son of Hall-of-Famer Craig, got a hit to right field that Judge absolutely butchered. It went all the way to the wall, and was generously scored as a triple, but should have been a single and an error.

Biggio thought he could turn it into an inside-the-park home run. He got caught in a rundown, and Loaisiga was out of the inning after 3 batters. Had the Yankees won the game, Biggio might have been praised for his hustle, but he also might have been ripped for costing the Jays the tying run.

Loaisiga has done well in middle relief so far this season, but he was bad in the 6th inning. He allowed back-to-back singles, then hit a batter with a pitch. Bases loaded, nobody out. Bruce showed enough sense to take the next ground ball and throw it home for a forceout. But Loaisiga threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score.

He got the next 2 batters out. Ordinarily, getting into a bases-loaded-nobody-out jam, and getting out of it with only 1 run allowed, is a relief, especially on the road. But that 1 run would loom large, as the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the 7th and the 9th, and wasted a 1-out single by Judge in the 8th.

Bo Bichette, son of All-Star Dante, led off the bottom of the 9th by taking Chad Green deep. Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4. WP: Rafael Dolis (1-0). No save. LP: Green (0-2).

The Yankees are now 5-7, 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. That's a pace for going 67-95 over a full season.

Today is an off-day. Tomorrow, the Yankees open a series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium II.

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